A group led by former baseball commissioner Peter V. Ueberroth has agreed to buy Eastern Airlines for about $450 million in a deal that would give the strike-crippled carrier's employees a major share of the company, sources confirmed Thursday.
The deal, which is subject to approval by Eastern creditors and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, followed lengthy negotiations with Eastern's parent Texas Air Corp.Eastern scheduled a mid-day news conference in New York to announce the deal, sources close to negotiations said.
Miami-based Eastern has been virtually paralyzed since March 4 by a machinists union strike.
Ueberroth, who flew to New York late Tuesday night from his California home, began personal negotiations with Texas Air Chairman Frank Lorenzo Wednesday morning and continued them until about 8 p.m., resuming talks early today.
Ueberroth's group made a $464 million offer for Eastern last week and then withdrew the bid after being told by Texas Air that it had been topped by another suitor, identified by sources close to the situation as billionaire hotel executive Jay A. Pritzker.
Under the offer accepted by Texas Air, Ueberroth's and Thomas Talbot, a former airline executive from California, would own 30 percent of the airline. Easterns unions would have get another 30 percent of the company in exchange for wage and work-rule concessions. The remaining 40 percent would be held by new investors.