Report: Tribune hires bankruptcy advisers

Dec. 7, 2008 at 8:13 PM
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CHICAGO, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Tribune Co. has engaged bankruptcy advisers in an effort to stave off a potential bankruptcy filing, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Citing people briefed on the matter, the Times said Tribune -- a media group based in Chicago -- has hired a group of advisers that includes Lazard Freres and Co. LLC and Sidley Austin LLP to look for ways to deal with debt incurred as a result of the company's sale last year to billionaire investor Samuel Zell.

Tribune's debt problems have been compounded by shrinking newspaper advertising revenues, the Times said.

Tribune has reduced staff in many of the newspapers it owns -- including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times and The Baltimore Sun.

The company faces large interest payments on its debt at the same time that further borrowing is restricted by a maintenance covenant, the report said. Even if Tribune is able to make interest payments, it faces the possibility of technical default if its debt becomes too large in relation to earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization, the Times reported.

Technical default does not necessarily result in bankruptcy filing, the report said.

Tribune has been looking to sell off assets, including the Chicago Cubs. The National League team's chairman said Saturday the Cubs would have a new owner by mid-February.

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