Business, Economics and Jobs

Publisher Tribune leaves bankruptcy after 4 years


CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 07: Pedestrians walk near the Tribune Tower, headquarters of the Tribune Company on June 7, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and several broadcasting outlets across the country, emerged from bankruptcy on December 31, 2012.



It's an especially happy New Years Eve for employees and new owners of the publisher Tribune Co.

The parent company of the Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times and several broadcast outlets emerged from Chapter 11 restructuring on Monday, four years after it first filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Chicago-based media giant has a new board of directors and new ownership including the hedge fund Oaktree Capital and Angelo, Gordon & Co, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. 

Tribune told Reuters on Sunday that its portfolio would include eight major daily newspapers and 23 TV stations and the new owners intend to sell the majority of its newspaper holdings.

According to Reuters, potential buyers have already expressed interest in The Los Angeles Times and The Orlando Sentinel. 

"Tribune will emerge as a dynamic multi-media company with a great mix of profitable assets, powerful brands in major markets, sufficient liquidity for operations and investments and significantly less debt," Chief Executive Eddy Hartenstein said in a statement.

In order to qualify for bankruptcy restructuring, AP reports that Tribune secured a $1.1 billion senior secured term loan and a $300 million revolving credit line.

The Los Angeles Times reports that infighting among the company's new owners made Tribune's bankruptcy is one of longest in US corporate history.

The Times' parent company first sought Bankruptcy Court protection in December 2008 after an $8.2 billion leveraged buyout by real estate magnate Sam Zell added $12.9 billion in debt to the company's bottom line.

According to Reuters, the new Tribune is expected to focus on growing its TV operations, which represent the core of its profits. Together, the company's TV assets account for $2.85 billion of Tribune's $7 billion value, according to its financial advisor Lazard. 

The company's newspaper assets represent only $623 million and the rest of its value comes from other assets including its 30 percent stake in the Food Network.

Tribune is expected to invest more in its cable channel WGN America, a national version of the local Chicago station WGN that reaches 76 million American households. 

"I'm sure that's the plan," Derek Baine, a senior media analyst with SNL Kagan, told The Chicago Tribune earlier this month. "It all comes down to how much money you're investing in programming to get the viewers."

Peter Liguori, one of the Tribune's new board of directors and a former TV executive at Discovery and Fox, is expected to be named chief executive of the reorganized Tribune Co., according to the Chicago Tribune.