Zell offering Tribune $33 a share?

That's what the LAT is saying in a story posted on its Web site this afternoon. At $33, Tribune shareholders would get a modest premium over the current stock price, which closed Friday at $30.53 (it's inched up a bit on speculation that the Zell deal may happen). The problem is that there's only a week to go before the company's self-imposed deadline to make a decision on a sale, and that's not much time to sew up what obviously is a very complicated deal. That would hardly seem grounds to opt for a lesser alternative - say, the Tribune's own self-help financial package - but speculating on the basis of unnamed sources is dangerous business in a story that has slip-slided in just too many directions. One concern about the Zell deal involves the heavy debt load Tribune would take on - especially relevant given that the offer calls for the creation of an employee stock ownership plan that could bring company pensions into play. One other thing: Zell has said in interviews that he would be inclined to hold onto the Tribune portfolio of newspapers and television stations rather than sell them off to generate cash. But might he change his mind in order to pare down some debt? And what would those assets be?

More Times: For those of you who simply can't get enough chatter about the recent "Grazergate" episode or the Tribune financial drama, I'll be joining Roderick on KPFK's "Deadline L.A." tomorrow at noon (90.7).

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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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