Action on Chandler Family Tribune Bid Seen Unlikely as Deadline Looms

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By: E&P Staff

In the desultory auction process for Tribune Co. — in which deadlines have added little urgency — another looms Wednesday afternoon: At 5 p.m. CST, the Chandler family’s $31.70-a-share bid expires.

It’s unclear if the offer will be extended beyond the evening, but persistent reports say the Tribune committee of independent directors supervising the auction are underwhelmed by the plan, which would spin off the Chicago media giant’s television operations into a new company, while the Chandlers and its partners — including, reportedly, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. — would take Tribune newspapers private.

Under the deal, shareholders would get shares in the new TV business valued at $12.40, plus $19.30 per share in cash.

The offer is barely a premium over Tribune?s current stock price. At 10:39 a.m. Wednesday, the stock was trading at $30.57, down 12 cents from its opening.

In an unbylined article Wednesday, the company’s flagship Chicago Tribune quoted unnamed sources as saying the Chandlers are considering sweetening the offer.

The Chandlers, the largest Tribune shareholders with a 20% stake, put the auction process in motion after making public its discontent over the stock?s performance in the past few years.

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