*Broad/Burkle offer to get hearing

The full Tribune board will be meeting this weekend to review the competing offers from L.A. billionaires Broad/Burkle and Chicago real estate mogul (and also billionaire) Sam Zell. They're still hoping for a resolution in the next day or two - that's certainly what the board wants - but the WSJ reports that there's concern about how vulnerable Tribune might be to a shareholder lawsuit if the directors choose the Zell bid without giving Broad and Burkle a full hearing. But there's some question as to how advanced the Broad and Burkle offer really is. That could drag things past the weekend and beyond. In the midst of all this deliberating, don't dismiss the Los Angeles-Chicago dynamic. I know it sounds ridiculous, but consider this morning's lede in the Chicago Tribune: "First, the 2016 Olympics; now, Tribune Co. It has come down to Chicago versus Los Angeles in a battle of billionaires." The Tribune board is heavily Chicago-centric.

*Update: It's looking like Tribune will go for the Zell proposal. The board meets today (Sunday), and while it's always possible there will be some last-minute switcheroo (anything would be possible in this saga), all signs point to a Zell purchase, probably in the next day or so. The Chicago Tribune this morning quoted an unnamed source close to Broad and Burkle as saying that Zell pretty much had it locked up. "If you were naive you might think you were still in this," the source said. But "they're just keeping [Broad and Burkle] warm to keep Sam honest on his terms." Most of the Tribune piece examines employee stock ownership plans - the structure of choice for making this deal happen - and how they have fared over the years among major corporations. The record ain't so great: United, Polariod and to a certain extent, Enron. As a rule, ESOPs do much better with smaller companies of less than 1,000 employees.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
The multi-talented Mark Lacter
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