Six independent directors of Tribune Co. returned fire over the Chandler family’s attack on the company, saying that the Chandlers are looking after their own interests rather than public shareholders’.
The directors' letter responds to the Chandler's objection to a planned $2 billion stock buyback as misguided and ignoring major strategic problems inside the company. The Chandlers became Tribune's second-largest shareholders when they sold their Times Mirror to Tribune in 2000.
The indie directors blasted the Chandlers’ assertion that the buyback plan was ""hasty and ill-informed," saying icily that, "as your three Chandler Trust-nominated directors well know," the Trib board spent several months reviewing "a broad range of strategic alternatives" and studied the tender offer in two lengthy meetings with "extensive" presentations from Tribune management, investment backers and lawyers.
The directors say that the Chandlers are actually upset that Tribune Co. hasn’t restructured two complicated partnership with the family trusts, the so-called TCMT partnerships, that preclude them from readily selling their shares. Negotiations over the partnerships have snagged over tax implications and who should bear more of the costs.