As Sam Zell's roughly $8 billion offer for the Tribune Company gains traction over the company's proposed "self-help" plan, former bidders Ron Burkle and Eli Broad are claiming the company did not give their $27 per share dividend offer a fair shot.
Burkle and Broad are rumored to be preparing a counteroffer. Zell's plan involves the creation of an employee stock ownership plan [ESOP] with which he will partner to bring the bid to $33 per share, an 8% premium over the Tribune's Friday close of $30.53. That price is considered by some analysts to be a reasonable enticement to the company to enter into an ESOP, which, while providing several tax benefits, will also create a problematic debt burden. Hints of improvement in the negotiations between the Tribune and Zell contributed to a 3.5% runup in the company's shares on Friday.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, MarketWatch, Wall Street Journal
Commentary: A Sam Zell Takeover May Be Tribune's Best Bet - Barron's • Sam Zell In Midst of Revising Bid for Tribune Co. • Tribune Reviewing "Self-Help" Plan
Stocks/ETFs to watch: The Tribune Company (TRB). Competitors: Gannett Co. (GCI), The New York Times Co. (NYT), The Washington Post Co. (WPO), The McClatchy Company (MNI)
Conference call transcripts: Q4 2006
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