Tribune Co. (TRBAA)’s proposed spinoff of its newspapers will probably happen by midyear, allowing time to vet candidates to run a business that includes the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Chief Executive Officer Peter Liguori is eyeing the second quarter or early third quarter for the operation, which will convert the unit into a publicly traded company, according to two people with knowledge of the plans who asked not to be identified because the matter remains private.

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