Bids for Tribune Co. Coming In: 3 Main Contenders

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By: E&P Staff

It seemed farfetched at the start but the chances that the Tribune Co. may actually change hands, in whole or part, seem to be soaring. The Wall Street Journal reports today that several groups of private-equity firms “are beginning to wade into the auction for media concern Tribune Co., and likely stand the best hope for a company trying to sell itself amid weak financial results, an uncertain future and a divided board of directors.”

The Journal article continues: “The company has asked that bidders submit nonbinding indications of interest by the end of the month, say people familiar with the matter. So far, three main contenders have emerged, these people say. One group consists of Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Management. A second is an alliance of Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. Carlyle Group is also active in the process, though it is unclear whether it will participate on its own or jump into a different bidding camp.

“Similarly, these groupings could change or expand as the potential bidders do more investigation into Chicago-based Tribune, which counts the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Newsday among its newspaper holdings. The company also owns 25 television stations, the Chicago Cubs, and a number of other media holdings. The company’s hope is to conclude its sales process by year’s end, though like any auction, it is subject to the vagaries of market and financing conditions. And its preference is to sell off the company as a whole, though it may be willing to break off pieces if those pieces can fetch prices that would cover any resulting tax bills.”

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