MORNING ROUNDUP: Jeff Zucker Approached by Private Equity Groups for Post-NBC Job
Plus: Lawsuit alleges Sam Zell intentionally crippled Tribune Co., EMI could be sold piecemeal and Apple owes billionaire Steve Jobs $37.91.
- What’s next for departing NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker? During a UBS investor conference appearance on Wednesday, he once again said he hasn’t figured out his next step once he leaves when Comcast’s acquisition of a majority stake in the entertainment company closes. But the Wall Street Journal reports that he has been approached by private equity firms, an option that could see him go down a path other seasoned media executives have followed – either temporarily or for the longer term. The Journal said it is just one of various options Zucker, who has expressed interest in such areas as news, digital media, production work, sports and politics, is considering. At the UBS conference, Zucker said maybe he could work at the intersection of several of those fields. Among media veterans moving into private equity, former Time Warner boss Dick Parsons became a senior adviser to Providence Equity Partners after leaving his role and before becoming Citigroup chairman. Former Viacom and Time Warner top executive Rich Bressler has worked for Thomas H. Lee Partners since 2006.
- Sam Zell intentionally crippled media company Tribune Co. with debt, while investment bank Morgan Stanley unjustly profited from his acquisition of the group, creditors alleged in a lawsuit, according to the New York Post. Zell, who invested only $315 million, but had Tribune borrow more than $10 billion in a late 2007 buyout that eventually led to a bankruptcy filing, knew that the debt would lead the company to collapse, the lawsuit charges, the paper said. The suit also includes claims against L.A. Times founding family member Jeffrey Chandler, the Robert McCormick Foundation, Merrill Lynch and 3,000 Tribune shareholders, according to the Post. Zell's lawyer disagreed with the charges, highlighting that an independent examiner found that Zell acted in good faith. "We intend to defend ourselves vigorously," he said, according to the Post. "We did nothing wrong."
- Apple owes Steve Jobs $37.91, according to the State of California's unclaimed property search website. Jobs, who accepts $1 a year in salary, is also due 20 cents worth of dividends and one share from Time Warner. IBM owes him unclaimed income of $35 and two shares of stock.
- Guy Hands and his private equity firm Terra Firma may lose control of music label EMI to Citigroup, which could lead to a sale of EMI in parts, the New York Post reported Thursday. Investors in Terra Firma are "unwilling" to put more cash into EMI, which Terra acquired in a troubled buyout in 2007. Hands persuaded investors to put an additional $156 million into EMI earlier this year to keep it from defaulting on a $5 billion loan from Citi, but another debt test comes up at the end of March, and it will require more cash, sources told the Post. If Citi takes control of EMI, it could look to break up the company and sell its parts, the Post said. Warner Music Group has long been seen as interested in buying at least parts of EMI.