Tribune Co. (TRB) executives faced aggressive eleventh-hour questions Tuesday from skittish bankers reluctant to fund the final portion of Sam Zell's $8.2B deal to take the company private, the Chicago Tribune reported late Tuesday. Unnamed sources close to the company say the banks were "scouring company records" before committing. The Tribune says it is unclear what exactly the bankers were looking for, but their apprehension likely stems from current credit-market tightness which will probably leave the bankers unable to sell the remaining $4.2B in debt to third-part investors.
Sources say Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons is prepared to step down once the deal closes. Zell is slated to take over as chairman, but it is not clear who the new CEO will be. Zell is likely to play an active role in the company's functions. Mr. Zell has in the past criticized Tribune's lackluster performance and hinted he would run things differently if he were in charge. He has intimated dissatisfaction with Tribune's highly-centralized corporate structure and slowness in decision making.
Shares closed Tuesday at $33.31; Zell is slated to pay $34/share.
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