Tribune follos: Not much to chew on in the second day stories, other than the WSJ identifying the private equity firm Carlyle Group as the third bidder - but only for Tribune's TV stations. The Carlyle bid, expected to run a little over $4 billion, or nine times clash flow, could provide an escape valve for Tribune management, which is desperately trying to enhance shareholder value. By selling off the television unit, the company can fund a dividend without taking on the kind of debt that's inherent in the Broad/Burkle deal. One thing appears obvious: neither the Chandler liquidation plan (spinning off the TV stations and selling off the papers) nor the unusual Broad/Burkle scheme (borrow a bunch of money to pay for a $27 a share dividend) found much enthusiasm on Wall Street. That's why the Carlyle offer looks interesting because it refinances the company without selling off the company. Of course, it also eliminates a huge cash generator. The next flurry of coverage comes following this weekend's board meeting in Chicago. Chicago Tribune LAT WSJ
Freeze victims: They're still figuring out crop damage from this week's cold temperatures (it's over $100 million in Ventura County alone), but already it's resulting in layoffs for thousands of fruit-pickers, packers, truckers and other agricultural workers. And because of their immigration status, many of those folks will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. Mercury News
Waldorf react: The LAT gave P1 play to yesterday's news about the proposed 120-room hotel going up next to the reconfigured Beverly Hilton. Lots of chatter about congestion problems, which means another battle royale between residents and much of the business community. Traffic? But wait, we'll have subway stops all over the place by the year 2087 - or whenever that subway to the sea idea ever happens.
Toyota playing Super Bowl: The automaker will be showcasing its newly remodeled Tundra full-size pickup in two 30-second spots. Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles will be doing the ads. (Toyota did two ads in last year's Super Bowl.) Timing isn't ideal. Toyota, which has its North America marketing operations in Torrance, is recalling 533,000 2004-2006 Tundra pickups because of potential steering problems. Ad Age AP
Port work planned: More growth means the need for expanded facilities, so a number of long-delayed terminal, road and rail expansion projects are on tap, financed by bond money. At least they're ready to be presented to the public. In the Port of Long Beach, those proposals include a major overhaul of the Middle Harbor area and replacement of the aging Gerald Desmond Bridge. Press-Telegram
Remember Paxson Communications?: That was the ultra-conservative, family-friendly TV network NBC bought a third of in 1999. Along the way, there have been squabbles about programming and debt load. To protect its investment, NBC paid $25 million to take control and replace founder Bud Paxson. Now there's word that hedge fund Citadel Investment Group, already a major investor in the network (now called Ion Media), is willing to buy out remaining shareholders and take the thing private. NBC needs a partner because under FCC rules it can't purchase the company itself. NY Post