FitzSimons Got $6.2 Million From Struggling Tribune Last Year

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Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons received compensation the company valued at $6.2 million in 2006, a year the media conglomerate was forced to put itself up for sale because of pressure over its lagging performance, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

FitzSimons was paid a $999,327 salary and $1.4 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation. His pay package was boosted by stock awards and options valued at $3.7 million when they were granted as well as perquisites of $106,983. The perks included $68,586 in company contributions to his retirement plans and $6,819 in tax reimbursements as well as a car allowance, membership in social and professional clubs and financial planning services.

The Associated Press calculations of total pay include executives’ salary, bonus, incentives, perks, above-market returns on deferred compensation and the estimated value of stock options and awards granted during the year.

The proxy also indicated that FitzSimons is eligible for a $10.3 million severance payment when the company changes hands, along with $246,250 in outplacement services and $38,337 in benefits continuation.

Tribune, which owns 11 daily newspapers, 23 TV stations and the Chicago Cubs, had a net profit of $588 million last year, up 12.5 percent from 2005 due largely to investment gains. Its revenue was flat at $5.52 billion, reflecting the struggles of a newspaper industry that is hemorrhaging readers and advertisers in the face of online alternatives.

Demands from its biggest shareholders, the Chandler Trusts, to break up or sell the company prompted it to launch an auction for itself last September which concluded only this month due to lukewarm interest.

The company late last Sunday night accepted a $34-a-share cash buyout offer from Sam Zell in which it will take on an additional $5 billion in debt and go private, with the Chicago real estate magnate to become chairman and the leading individual stakeholder of a majority employee-owned company.

Tribune shares, which lost roughly half their value from 2004 until last summer, closed trading Thursday at $32.83 _ up 6.6 percent in 2007 but still far off their levels of above $50 three years ago.

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