Chandlers extend deadline for Tribune proposal

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CHICAGO -- Tribune Co.'s largest shareholder, Chandler Trusts, has extended the deadline on an offer for the media conglomerate that had been set to expire Wednesday, a person close to the family said.

The move gives the company's board of directors more time to consider the highest-valued bid for its assets to date during a four-month review process.

The Chandlers, whose complaints last year about Tribune's sagging stock price prompted the company to solicit outside proposals, made an estimated $7.6 billion proposal Jan. 17 to buy the company and spin off its broadcast division to shareholders. It said in the proposal, which was disclosed in a regulatory filing, that its offer would expire Jan. 31.

Before the deadline passed, however, a person close to the Los Angeles-based family said that it had been extended. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations have been private, did not say whether a new deadline had been set.

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman declined comment.

The Chandlers own 20% of Tribune stock, a legacy of their sale of the Los Angeles Times and other Times Mirror Co. properties to Tribune in 2000.

Chicago-based Tribune could reject the Chandler's offer outright or negotiate new terms. Analysts have said none of the three offers received by the company's deadline for proposals likely is sufficient enough for it to accept.

Tribune also received a joint proposal from Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ronald Burkle to sponsor a recapitalization of the company that would leave them in control after the payout of a big dividend to shareholders financed by the assumption of billions of dollars of new debt and a $500 million investment on their part. A third offer, for Tribune's television stations only, reportedly was submitted by the Carlyle Group private-equity firm.

Tribune owns 11 papers, including the Chicago Tribune and The (Baltimore) Sun in addition to the Times, along with 23 television stations and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

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