Zell enters the ring: The Chicago real estate magnate has approached Tribune Co. with a proposal that may include taking an equity stake in the company while adding debt to fund a large dividend for shareholders. Sound familiar? That is essentially what Broad and Burkle had in mind in their efforts to take over Tribune. The Chicago Tribune, which is reporting the news, says that Zell might need to enlist the McCormick Foundation in order to make the deal work. Zell is selling his Equities Office Properties Trust to Blackstone Group today for $39 billion (Vornado dropped out of the bidding war this morning). Tribune earnings come out tomorrow.
News Corp. numbers: The Rupert Murdoch-controlled media giant (and parent of Fox and MySpace) posted second quarter profit of 26 cents, down from 33 cents a year earlier. (Wall Street had expected 25 cents.) Revenue was up 18 percent, helped in part by the success of "Borat" at the box office and "X-Men" in DVDs. The television unit's operating income fell 39 percent, much of it on losses from MyNetworkTV, which seems to be on life support. Of note is that revenue from Bev Hills-based MySpace was $518 million from $367 million a year earlier. "The quarter was better than we expected, driven by the film studios,'' Aryeh Bourkoff, an analyst at UBS AG told Bloomberg News. "And it looks like MySpace started to be a contributor to the growth of the company." Reuters
Speaking of MySpace: A $900 million online advertising deal that Google and MySpace cut last summer is being held up over MySpace's interest in a separate arrangement with eBay. Apparently, MySpace wants to be sure that the deal with Google doesn't limit its ability to work out e-commerce contracts with third parties. Under the deal, MySpace will be able to use Google's search technology and carry ads brokered by Google. In return, Google would pay News Corp. a minimum of $900 million in shared ad revenue over the next three years. From the WSJ:
MySpace has been talking to eBay for several months about ways they could partner on what MySpace calls "peer commerce," according to people familiar with the matter. The idea is to let MySpace users buy and sell items from each other using eBay's online-commerce technology and its PayPal payment system, these people said. MySpace users would be able to post items for sale on their profiles, and their eBay auctions would be automatically updated, according to one person close to the discussions.
Tiger skipping Riviera: It's not official yet, but his Web site has him next appearing at the Accenture Match Play Championship at Tucson, the week after L.A.'s Nissan Open. The Nissan folks are saying it's not that big a deal, but it is - a Woods appearance guarantees better TV ratings and gallery turnout. He never won at Riviera, which may help explain the decision. LAT
Beckham fever: Major League Soccer is certainly banking on it. The season schedule has the Galaxy playing 11 of its 15 road games after the All-Star break, when Beckham presumably will be joining the team. That will likely fill stadiums all over the U.S. and Canada. LAT
Maguire off the block: The L.A.-based real estate investment trust is no longer pursuing "strategic alternatives," which is bizspeak for being up for sale. Maguire, downtown Los Angeles' largest office owner, has been the subject of takeover speculation, especially with Equity Office Properties and Mills attracting so much interest. Maguire shares have gained 29 percent in the last year, compared with a 34 percent increase in the Bloomberg REIT index. LAT
Disney.com relaunched: The long-awaited Web site makeover finally opened for business. Visitors will have an easier time navigating the site for particular categories. Instead of dividing Disney into business units, the new home page focuses on stuff like travel, games, music and TV. CEO Robert Iger considers Disney.com to be a crucial ingredient in the company's transition to digital fare. Orlando Sentinel
O Oscar: Oscar de la Renta, whose designs will be seen all over the red carpet during this month's Oscar bash, is introducing a low-priced line ($49 to $229) called O Oscar. An earlier effort at producing a line for the masses was pulled after one year. "I am not about minimalism," the 74-year-old designer told the NY Post. "I am really about ornamentation. Once you say, 'Take this ruffle out, or take out that detail,' it becomes difficult to deliver a product that the consumer will recognize as Oscar de la Renta." Don't I know it - that's why my jeans are always ruffle free.