This is the so-called self-help proposal in which the company is split into separate broadcast and newspaper divisions and shareholders get a one-time dividend of up to $20 a share. It's a pretty dicey proposition because Tribune would have to borrow a ton of money to pay for that dividend, and the lenders might want to cuts costs even further. Under the plan, reported by the LAT this afternoon, most or all of Tribune's 23 TV stations (including KTLA) would be spun off into a new company, while the newspapers would remain with Tribune. Unclear is whether Tribune would remain publicly held or go private. The Tribune board will be looking at the plan tomorrow.This obviously eliminates offers by Eli Broad, Ron Burkle, David Geffen and the Chandler family, but those were pretty much turned down weeks ago. The Times reports that Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell is still pushing for a late bid of some kind.
*Update: The Chicago Tribune reports that Zell is proposing a deal in which his firm would work with an employee stock ownership plan to buy up all of Tribune stock and then take the company private. There are a couple of obvious plusses: ESOPs allow writeoffs on the money used to pay back the debt taken on to buy the company; and it gets the Chandler family, which currently owns 20 percent of Tribune and has been a huge pain in the neck, out of the picture. Of course, it also means that Tribune employees would be the new owners of what's currently a pretty lousy company.