Takeover 'feelers'

Flurry of stories this morning on the repercussions of the Chandler family's strained relations with the Tribune Company. The most immediate effect is that the weak stock price is rising, which staffers at the Times and KTLA have to be happy about. Their 401-k accounts are puffing up for the first time in awhile. But the higher price jeopardizes the buyback strategy that Tribune revealed just last week, and also increases speculation that the company will be sold or broken up. From the NYT:

Those investors hoping for a takeover may have some reason for optimism. At least three private equity firms have approached trusts for the Chandler family recently, according to two people briefed on the approaches. In particular, the investment firms the Blackstone Group, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Providence Equity Partners have inquired about buying the Chandlers' 12 percent stake or joining with them to mount a takeover of the company, these people said.

These firms have also put out feelers to several other members of the Tribune board to gauge interest in a transaction, these people said.

Neither the Chandler trusts nor Tribune has actively engaged in talks, however, and the company yesterday reaffirmed its plan to buy back $2 billion worth of its stock over the objections of the three Chandler representatives on its 11-member board.

Reports also in the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.


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