Chandlers Bid For Tribune

Family would spin off television stations
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Tribune Co.'s biggest (and angriest) shareholder offered to buy the Chicago-based company last week and, as part of the deal, proposed spinning off the company's 23 TV stations into a separate company. The offer, proposed by the Chandler family that once controlled the Los Angeles Times before it was acquired by Tribune in 2000, would be worth $7.6 billion.

The bid from the Chandler family has its ironies: Last year, the Chandlers criticized Tribune management and financial performance, arguing that company assets were being mismanaged. It was their criticism that eventually caused Tribune to announce that it was exploring the sale of its TV and newspaper assets. The deadline for bids was Jan 17.

The Chandlers were offering $19.30 per share in cash. When it spins off the stations into a separate Tribune Broadcasting, the combined entities would be worth $31.70 per share, a 4.5% premium over Tribune's closing price the day before the offer. The Chandler family would own 51% of the company. Many analysts thought it a lukewarm proposal.

The Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm, offered to buy the TV stations, but terms of that deal were unclear. Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons says the board will study the offers.

Tribune Co. owns some blue-ribbon stations: WPIX New York, KTLA Los Angeles and flagship WGN Chicago. All of its stations except one are CW, MyNetworkTV or Fox affiliates.

Tribune also received a bid from Los Angeles billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad and from a private-equity group that is mainly interested in acquiring the Times, which has been in tumult over declining circulation, layoffs and management shakeups.

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