Trib's FitzSimons: $2B Buyback on Track

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Despite the harsh opposition of one of Tribune Co.’s largest shareholders, company CEO Dennis FitzSimons vows to proceed with a planned $2 billion stock buyback plan.

Speaking at a newspaper financial conference in New York Tuesday, FitzSimons didn’t budge from the original plan, which calls for the company to buy back 25% of its outstanding shares. "The tender offer is on track," FitzSimons says.

"The tender offer allows the company to return value to shareholders who may be seeking liquidity while also allowing us to continue to move forward on our longer-term strategy," FitzSimons said. "Our independent directors were unanimous in supporting this transaction at this time as being in the best interests of all shareholders.

The Chandlers acquired 12% of the newspaper and broadcasting company's stock when it sold controlling interest in Times Mirror to Tribune in 2000. The Chandlers have attacked the buyback plan, saying that FitzSimons should instead break the company up and offload its TV stations – which account for 25% of Tribune revenues.

The buyback process is scheduled to begin Monday.

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