Monday, November 13, 2006

Is Tribune Toast? USA Today, Multiple Private Equity Companies Offer On Tribune Empire!

Gannett - purveyor of such journalistic nightmares such as USA Today - and a number of bottom feeing private equity firms are also making offers on all the Tribune properties. Ironically, the only thing that might save the LA Times from being destroyed by one of these companies is if the Chandlers rethink their demand that the paper be sold.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gannett Co. Inc. (GCI.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the largest U.S. newspaper company, is pursuing a bid for rival Tribune Co. (TRB.N: Quote, Profile, Research), according to media reports.

Tribune, with a market value of about $8 billion, is trying to sell itself amid weak financial results, an uncertain future and pressure from the Chandler family, a major shareholder.

After putting in a bid for the whole company, Gannett executives visited Tribune's Chicago headquarters to hear management's presentations, the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times -- both Tribune papers -- reported over the weekend.

Gannett's pursuit of Tribune, publisher of USA Today, heats up an already crowded field of suitors, which includes several groups of private equity firms.

Tribune properties also include New York's Newsday and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Since opening the bidding process, Tribune has reached out to several media groups, including Gannett, Hearst Corp. and Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company also has been in contact with News Corp. (NWS.AX: Quote, Profile, Research)(NWS.N: Quote, Profile, Research), which is interested in Newsday in New York, the Journal said.

MediaNews has had informal discussions with Tribune about some of its properties, such as the Hartford Courant and the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut, but hasn't had any meetings with the company, the Journal said, citing one person familiar with the matter....


One preliminary offer was put in by a private equity group made up of Texas Pacific Group (TPG.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) and Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL.UL: Quote, Profile, Research), one source familiar with the situation has told Reuters.

Another offer was put in by a group consisting of Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Management, a separate source close to the situation has said.

Private equity group Bain Capital also put in a bid and the Carlyle Group (CYL.UL: Quote, Profile, Research) has also looked at Tribune, sources have said.

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