Tribune Co. To Movie Mogul Geffen: ‘L.A. Times’ Not For Sale

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By: E&P Staff

Tribune Co. rebuffed an offer to buy the Los Angeles Times from an unlikely suitor: entertainment mogul David Geffen, the newspaper reported this weekend.

According to an article by staff writer James Rainey, Geffen met this summer with Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons, and indicated his interest in acquiring the newspaper.

“We had a meeting at his request, with no disclosed reason in advance,” the newspaper quoted FitzSimons as saying. “At that point, he indicated his interest in the paper. And I told him it was not for sale.”

FitzSimons would not say whether Geffen made an actual offer, but did say nothing has changed since to make the Chicago-based corporation any more willing to sell the paper it acquired in its blockbuster $8 billion purchase of Times Mirror Co. in 2000.

Geffen, a multibillionaire who co-founded the DreamWorks SKG movie studio, would not comment for the Times story.

But the Times quoted three unnamed “well-known civic figures in Los Angeles” who said he had talked with them in recent weeks about buying the paper, investing more in editorial and demanding more modest profits than Tribune, which does not disclose the financial performances of individual papers. The Times also said Geffen may be motivated by the criticism he has received at the hands of the paper, which in a July editorial referred to DreamWorks as a failure.

The Times article noted that other powerful local businessmen have from time to time expressed interest in taking the Times off Tribune Co.’s hands. They include Haim Saban, best known for developing the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,” former junk bond king Michael Milken, and Eli Broad, who the Times article says “has fortunes from home building and financial services.”

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