Tribune needs more time

Extends deadline for selloff plan

Tribune Co. said Tuesday that it will extend its strategic review of assets beyond year's end.

The media group, owner of newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, 25 TV stations and the Chicago Cubs, previously had fixed Dec. 31 as a deadline for deciding whether to sell all or portions of the company. In a statement, Tribune said it now intends to wrap things up with a board recommendation on any possible sale plan by sometime in the first quarter.

"This process has generated strong interest from a number of parties," Tribune chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons said. "Advisers to both the company and the independent special committee of the board have recommended that the review process be extended to ensure thorough consideration of all proposals."

Special committee chairman William Osborn said, "We are committed to a complete review process that will yield maximum value for all Tribune shareholders."

Separately, the Chicago-based media group said that the FCC has approved its selling two TV stations — WCWN in Albany, N.Y., and WLVI Boston. Tribune said it expects to close the transactions this month, in line with its previously announced intent to dispose of noncore assets.

Some expect Tribune to sell the Times to Los Angeles-based owners eventually, but Tribune gave no update regarding the likelihood of individual business being sold. Local investors Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, who each have indicated individual interest in potentially acquiring the Times, recently teamed to place a bid for the entire Tribune Co. (HR 11/9).

Tribune announced the extension of its strategic review after the close of market trading Tuesday. Its shares rose 32 cents, or 1%, to close at $32.10.
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