Report: Zell Could Stay As Tribune Chief, Post-Bankruptcy

By: E&P Staff Don't write Sam Zell off as chairman and CEO of Tribune Co. just yet, cautions a report in Monday's New York Times.

According to the Times' unnamed sources, when Tribune Co. emerges from bankruptcy reorganization, expected at some point this fall, much of its current top management, hand-picked by Zell, could remain in charge -- and so could the Chicago real estate mogul himself.

Much media speculation has had Zell gone after bankruptcy, with some reports even having him giving up his option to buy 40% of Tribune.

But Times reporters Richard Perez-Pena and Michael J. de la Merced, citing "people close to the restructuring talks," write that "the major creditors have not yet given a clear indication whether they want Mr. Zell to leave or remain in some capacity."

"Nor has Mr. Zell said clearly whether he wants to go, though he is used to being the man in charge, and his authority would be diminished under new owners," the Times adds.

"I think the jury is out on Sam," one of them said, according to the Times account. "That is going to be a point of discussion."

Those creditors lent Tribune $8.2 billion to finance Zell's complex going-private deal, giving the Chicago media giant what proved to be a crushing debt burden of about $13 billion. When ad revenue plummeted in 2008, Tribune was forced to seek bankruptcy protection.

Under the plan reportedly being bruited about, Tribune would emerge with more than $12 billion of that debt wiped out.


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