Billionaire Eli Broad Teams With Financier to Make L.A. Times Bid
Los Angeles investor Eli Broad is bidding again for the Los Angeles Times -- this time with financier and former L.A. Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.
Broad, whose estimated worth is north of $6 billion, is teaming with Beutner, an investment banker. The pair are primarily interested in the Times, though they would consider purchasing the block of Tribune Co. newspapers -- including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant -- and then sell off the excess titles, sources say.
Beutner and Broad would like to reconfigure the Times into a nonprofit, which Beutner would run while Broad joins its board of governors, sources tell THR.
"Mr. Broad has always believed in local ownership of the Times and would be interested in joining with others to buy the paper," Broad spokeswoman Karen Denne tells THR.
Some parties already have expressed interest in Tribune's individual newspaper titles. Wrapports Media, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times, has indicated interest in bidding for the cross-town rival Tribune. Newspaper-buying investor Warren Buffett, who told shareholders in a letter that he spent $344 million to buy 28 newspapers in the past 15 months, has said he'd like to look at The Morning Call, Tribune's paper in Allentown, Pa.
Broad joined supermarket magnate Ron Burkle in a bid for the Tribune Co. before its 2007 sale to Sam Zell, but they were outbid.
Broad and Beutner offer a stark contrast to David and Charles Koch, who already might have bid for Tribune’s newspaper assets. The Kochs are among the best-known donors to conservative and libertarian causes, while Broad and Beutner have primarily opened their wallets to Democrats.
A spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector LLC told THR on March 12: “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring."
Tribune recently emerged from bankruptcy and named TV industry veteran Peter Liguori as its CEO. Several Hollywood figures sit on its board of directors, including Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Guggenheim Digital Media, parent company of THR.
Tribune confirmed last month that it was seeking a buyer for its newspaper business in order to focus on its TV and online assets.