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Tribune Co. emerges from bankruptcy

Dec. 31, 2012 at 12:24 PM   |   Comments

CHICAGO, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Tribune Co.'s prolonged stay in bankruptcy court is over, said officials of the multimedia company that began as a Chicago newspaper.

The firm, which will remain a major print news publisher with the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and six other daily newspapers as part of the enterprise, is poised to focus much of its business on television stations. It operates 23 broadcasting stations and is set to hire Peter Liguori, a former television executive at Fox and Discovery, as its next chief executive officer.

The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that the new owners of the 165-year old company include Oaktree Capital Management of Los Angeles, which will emerge with ownership of 23 percent of the equity and named two of the company's seven board members.

Angelo Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase own about 9 percent each and appointed one board member apiece.

The three shareholder groups then named two more board members jointly and reserved the seventh seat on the board for the new CEO.

"Tribune will emerge from the bankruptcy process as a multimedia company with a great mix of profitable assets, strong brands in major markets and a much-improved capital structure," said Eddy Hartenstein, the current CEO who will sit on the new board.

The company went into bankruptcy after it was purchased in a $8.2 billion leveraged buyout by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell, who bought the company in 2007, just before the economy turned south and just as an advertising migration to the Internet accelerated.

The media behemoth could not keep up with the total debt of more than $13 billion and the bankruptcy values the company at about $4.5 billion or roughly half of its value in 2007.

In another telling comparison, entertainment mogul David Geffeen offered to pay $2 billion in cash for the Los Angeles Times in 2006. The bankruptcy, however, values all six of the company's daily newspapers at $625 million.

Tribune's television stations were valued at $2.85 billion, while miscellaneous assets, including job listing Web site CareerBuilder, were valued at $226 billion.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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