Tribune To Sell 2 Smallest Papers to Gannett

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By: E&P Staff

Tribune Co. has agreed to sell its two smallest newspapers, both in Connecticut, to Gannett for more than $65 million, The Washington Post reports today. But what does this signal about the company’s desire to sell off the entire company? .

The Post relates that Tribune offered the Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate to two prospective buyers, Gannett and MediaNews Group, “according to a source familiar with the sale who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been announced.”

Gannett outbid MediaNews for the two papers. Tribune also owns The Hartford Courant and two TV stations in the state.

The Chicago Tribune observers today: “A Tribune spokesman wouldn’t comment on the deal, but if those numbers are true it would put Tribune over the $500 million in assets it pledged to sell early last year when it came under pressure from shareholders to restructure the company. Since then it has sold several television stations and a printing facility in Los Angeles, among other assets, to raise more than $470 million, the company has reported.”

The Washington Post story notes: “Tribune is considering offers for its remaining nine newspapers, 25 broadcast properties, the Chicago Cubs and other assets. It has said it will decide by the end of the month.

“The Tribune board is also weighing a ‘self-help’ plan that would spin off the television stations into a new company against three bids: one from Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, another from Southern California billionaires Eli Broad and Ronald Burkle, and a third from the Chandler Trusts, Tribune’s largest shareholder.

“Tribune sought as much as $75 million for the Connecticut papers and $25 million more for the real estate on which they sit, which is likely to be sold to third parties.

“Even though Tribune has received offers for some of its largest properties, such as the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, the company has been reluctant to sell its big assets piecemeal because of the large tax bills that would be incurred. Tribune’s Connecticut papers are geographically close to papers owned by Gannett and would allow the company to save money by combining the resources of its new properties with its existing ones. Gannett owns the Norwich Bulletin in Connecticut and the Journal News in nearby Westchester County, N.Y.”

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