Zell: I still want Tribune

I've given up trying to figure out what the heck is going on with those boys in Chicago, but for what its worth Sam Zell was interviewed by AP (unclear whether it was his idea or theirs) and he says that his proposal for Tribune remains in play. That's contrary to reports a few days back that suggested his idea to take Tribune private through an employee stock ownership plan was dying on the vine - in part because of the heavy debt load involved. Zell pooh-poohed the debt question ("there is no issue on the ability to fund a transaction"), and added that the "concept" (he prefers that word to "offer") would indeed result in Tribune (parent of the LAT) going private. OK, now for the tea leaf-reading: Zell is not afraid to talk to reporters, but he's usually pretty calculated in what he says and how. Meanwhile, the Tribune side has been quiet these past few days, leading some to conclude that the board was close to signing off on its "self-help" plan that would spin off the broadcast division and pay out a one-time cash dividend to shareholders. That, of course, would involve big-time debt as well. So, like, who knows? As you might recall, Tribune promised a decision by the end of the first quarter (that's the end of next week), but there's been talk about an extension. AP

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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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