Patterico's Pontifications

4/2/2007

Tribune Co. Sold

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:33 am



The L.A. Times reports that Tribune Company, its corporate parent, has been sold to a “quirky businessman” from Chicago:

Billionaire real estate mogul Sam Zell has reached an agreement to buy Tribune Co. in a two-stage deal valued at $8.2 billion, or $34 a share, the company said this morning.

. . . .

The transaction would mark a watershed for both Chicago and Los Angeles. It would turn the 160-year-old Tribune and its flagship Chicago Tribune, a major economic and political powerhouse in the Midwest, over to a quirky businessman whose previous investments have not had nearly such a high public profile.

And the deal would effectively liberate the Chandler family of California – owners of the Los Angeles Times for more than a century – from a newspaper business with which they have become disillusioned. For the second time in seven years, the Chandlers helped push The Times into the hands of new, Chicago-based owners.

In 2000, the pioneering Los Angeles family sold its control of Times Mirror Co. to Tribune. And the Chandlers’ remaining 20% stake in Tribune still gave them enough leverage to demand the strategic review that that would end with this sale. The auction did not turn into anything like a bidding contest until [Los Angeles billionaires Eli] Broad and [Ron] Burkle submitted their revised offer, which they valued at $34 a share, or $8.1 billion, late last week.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, this means for the L.A. Times.

15 Responses to “Tribune Co. Sold”

  1. It seems likely that Tribune Co will have to divest either the Times or KTLA under FCC rules. Similar divestiture in Chicago & New York. Does Zell want to be a newspaper owner or a TV magnate?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  2. Darn! One more year of the same old same with the Cubs.

    nk (37b8ef)

  3. Zell: “Tell the editorial page folks to pack their bags. I don’t need ’em. Brian Grazer’s taking over. And anybody in the newsroom who editorialized in the news stories they wrote, they’re gone too.”

    Hey – I can fantasize, can’t I?….

    mojo (8096f2)

  4. Are you sure it’s final and they accepted Zell’s bid? Because I have a $138.18 bid on the table and have heard nothing back. I know my bid was lower, but it was packed full of incentives. Like lunches and photo ops with me.

    Lew Clark (2a6b48)

  5. It’s final. Zell’s people have leaked that item one will be the sale of the Chicago Cubs. He’s a real estate guy and he knows that the stadium is too small and cannot be relocated. The deal is an employee stock ownership deal with Zell as COB with a super-option to buy 40% of the stock and take whatever is left private. LAT? Depends. The employees are the UAW of the newspaper biz and they don’t care if they take the entire paper down if they can’t continue on their Left ways, so we will see. Zell won’t screw with them. He has the super dragon resume (Wharton, Northwestern, U of Michigan etc.) and is one of the most respected people in business (billionaires have that ability to get respected—or else). One thing for sure, he knows where the money is—and isn’t.

    Howard Veit (4ba8d4)

  6. Plus he’s “quirky”!

    Patterico (04465c)

  7. And the deal would effectively liberate the Chandler family…from a newspaper business with which they have become disillusioned.

    The Chandler family made me so disillusioned about their newspaper that I liberated myself years ago by cancelling my subscription.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  8. Plus he’s “quirky”!

    Does that mean he’s extreme left or what…?

    Patricia (824fa1)

  9. Go over to Hugh Hewitt and read some comments from Times staffers who are nervous about their future; they smell lunch (as in “this turkey is done”) and fear that what they’re smelling is the end of their careers. But you know you can only sell Bandini to a credulous audience for so long, while you’re telling them that it’s actually vanilla ice cream. At some point, the rubes catch on and the enterprise sinks. The market is a harsh world indeed for the “reality based community” such as Messrs. Rutten and Weinstein.

    Mike Myers (4a5728)

  10. Hey this is the paper that had the famous DEWEY DEFEATS TRUEMAN headlines and news papers have been havibg false headlines ever since

    krazy kagu (7c8404)

  11. Just think of what the world would be like if Dewey would have defeated Truman. No communist China. No partition of Korea. No UN.
    Man that would have been sweet.

    papertiger (a8e044)

  12. Reuters already has a story up on the L.A. Times staff’s angst about the sale, and how Zell might change the paper for the worse, in the opinion of some Times staffers.

    Look for other big media outlets to run stories with some quotes from named and anonymous sources inside the Times that will serve as warning shots to Zell about changing the paper. There will also be background investigations of the billionaire’s politics and campaign donations, also in an effort to make sure he keeps his hands off the editorial control of the L.A. Times and Long Island Newsday, whose editorial content and leanings make the Times look like National Review (the old guard media will only marginally care if he finagles around with the company’s flagship paper in Chicago, since many of them still think of the Tribune as being controlled by the ultra-conservative Patterson family. But they won’t condone any efforts to change editorial courses on the East or West Coast, where the old guard types work and play).

    John (06c3a1)

  13. Zell just sold his largest real estate holdings to the Blackstone Group. He’s getting out of real estate.

    Zell is intrigued by online media. I expect him to dump any broadcast holdings in traditional media and look to acquire some existing new media properties.

    One hundred gajillion dollars says that Henry Weinstein was begging for the Burkle takeover.

    Gabriel Sutherland (90b3a1)

  14. Here is al-Reuters on Times employee nervousness.

    http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyid=2007-04-02T233952Z_01_N02445765_RTRUKOC_0_US-TRIBUNE-ZELL-LATIMES.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

    Shorter link if that one busts: al-Reuters on Times

    I would have emailed this to Patterico as the best possible man to comment on this, but saw he’s taking a break. (Good for him. It’s not like LA will run out of criminals while he’s recharging, there will be plenty left for him to cage on the rebound).

    This story has a few newsroom denizens quoted by name, and it has the gestalt of an interview with Studebaker workers… oh wait, there are no Studebaker workers.

    Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien (88bf29)

  15. Zell’s political contribution history is open knowledge. You can read it on the web. He gave to Bush in both elections but he also gives to some Democrats too.

    http://www.newsmeat.com/billionaire_political_donations/Sam_Zell.php

    The guy is “quirky” because he tends to be “out of the box” in his thinking and tends not to do things different from your average billionaire. No neckties, rides motorcycles … that sort of thing.

    crosspatch (8a67b7)


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