Yesterday's deadline for bids on the Tribune Company came and went; while several private equity firms expressed interest, NY Times reports none placed a bid. However, WSJ reports that TRB did receive at least one proposal from a private equity firm interested in its TV stations. Two other proposals, neither true bids, of interest: (1) Real estate investor Eli Broad and supermarket magnate Ronald Burkle yesterday proposed a leveraged recapitalization: they would borrow about $11 billion, and offer Tribune shareholders a $27/share dividend, leaving them with $7 a share in equity. They would also put up $500 million in cash, which would give make them the company's largest shareholders (34%). A source said the pair didn't have plans to sell any assets. (2) Its present biggest shareholder, the Chandler family (20%), seems to want to make a (yet unfinished) proposal to buy TRB's newspapers and spin off its TV stations, in partnership with a private equity firm. It already has commitments for half of the money needed, and is looking for more investors. Many see the Chandler offer as an effort to prop-up the value of its shares, in the face of a tepid response to the ill-fated auction which began last fall.
• Sources: New York Times, Wall Street Journal
• Related commentary: Tribune Co.'s Second Largest Shareholder Hires Outside Adviser in Possible Break With Management, The Chandler Family Takes Tribune Co.'s Fate into Its Own Hands, Low-Balled in Its Bid to Sell, Tribune Company Ponders Its Options. Conference call transcript: Tribune Q3 2006
• Potentially impacted stocks and ETFs: Tribune Company (TRB), The New York Times Co. (NYT), Washington Post Company (WPO), Gannett Co. Inc. (GCI), McClatchy Company (MNI)
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