Tribune Buying Back Up to 126M Shares

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Media conglomerate Tribune Co. said Wednesday that it has begun the repurchase of up to $4.3 billion of common shares in an initial step toward going private.

The nation’s second-largest newspaper publisher is being acquired in an $8.2 billion deal by real estate tycoon Sam Zell.

The company will buy back up to 126 million common shares $34 each in a previously announced tender offer. The number of shares represents more than 50 percent of Tribune’s shares outstanding. The repurchase is being funded through bank debt and a $250 million investment from Zell.

‘With Sam Zell’s initial investment completed, and the tender offer launched, the first stage of our transaction that will result in Tribune going private is underway,’ Chairman, President and Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement.

Shareholders can tender some or all of their shares at $34 per share in cash. The offer is not contingent on a minimum number of shares being tendered.

The Chandler Trusts, which hold about 20 percent of Tribune’s outstanding stock, will tender all of the company’s shares that it holds at the time the offer expires. Tribune’s employee stock ownership plan and Zell will not tender any shares.

The tender offer will expire on May 24 unless extended.

Tribune owns 11 daily newspapers, 23 TV stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

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