*Tribune accepts Zell's offer

The company finally made the announcement this morning. The price is $34 a share, or $8.2 billion. Zell nudged up his offer by a buck in the closing hours of the auction. There's a pretty low break-up fee - $25 million - that could encourage Eli Broad and Ron Burkle to raise their offer. But this seems to be a done deal. NYT quotes people close to the talks as saying that the board was reluctant to sell the company to anyone with ties to Los Angeles because of bad blood between Tribune and the LAT. Tribune also announced this morning that it plans to sell the Chicago Cubs after the 2007 baseball season. NYT Chicago Tribune

*Structuring the deal: It's a two-step process. The first step involves a cash tender offer for about 126 million shares at $34 a share. This will be funded by borrowings and a $250 million investment from Zell. That first part is supposed to be completed by June 30. In the second step, the remaining stock will be bought for $34 a share and Zell will put down another $65 million. The whole process is supposed to be wrapped up in the fourth quarter, at which point Tribune goes private through the creation of the ESOP and Zell becomes chairman. Tribune's current chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons will remain on the board, but there's no word on his status as chief executive. That might be an early indication of whether Zell holds onto current management or makes major changes at the top. Obviously, Itís too early to know how all this will play out at the LAT, though it's hard to believe that Zell would want to sell off the paper. It still brings in huge amounts of cash and itís still the crown jewel of the Tribune properties. But in trying to pare down debt, Zell will be faced with some of the same cost-cutting issues that weíve been hearing about these last few months. WSJ

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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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