Summary: Eli Broad, a billionare philanthropist, and Ron Burkle, owner of a number of supermarket chains, have expressed interest in jointly acquiring the Tribune Company, after separately making inquiries into buying subsidiary L.A. Times. A drooping stock price and sliding earnings have shareholders demanding that the media conglomerate sell off all or part of itself. Yesterday Dean Baquet, editor-in-chief at the L.A. Times, was fired for not making additional staff cuts as requested by the Tribune. After receiving very low bids for the whole company, it started putting subsidiaries on the block, which would have created significant tax issues. If the Broad-Burkle acquisition goes through, industry analysts expect them to spin off some smaller media companies and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Movie mogul David Geffen has also expressed interest. The company currently trades around $32; it was at $50 as recently as 2004. Analysts estimate the company could receive $40 a share, a 25% premium. This would bring the sale price to $15 billion, including the Tribune's $5 billion in debt.
Related links: Additional coverage: MarktWatch.com, WSJ • Commentary: Fewer Newspapers With Lower Circulation Is the Way of the Future • Low-Balled in Its Bid to Sell, Tribune Company Ponders Its Options • Earnings Conference Call Transcript: Tribune Q3 2006
Potentially impacted stocks Tribune Company (TRB) • Competitors: Dow Jones & Company (DJ), The New York Times Co. (NYT), Gannett Co. (GCI), The Washington Post Co. (WPO), The McClatchy Company (MNI), News Corp. (NWS)
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