Zell's Tribune officially goes private

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Tribune Co. went private Thursday and its shares ceased trading after real estate billionaire Sam Zell and his team of investors successfully closed their $8.2 billion purchase of the TV and newspaper company.

Zell became chairman of the board and CEO of the company, named two new executives and five new board members. He also signaled more changes were coming.

“Tribune, along with the newspaper industry, has been mired in its monopolistic origins, and we intend to create a fresh, entrepreneurial culture that is fast and nimble, and which rewards innovation,” Zell said.

Observers also expect the company to sell off the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Wrigley Field some time next year, leaving Tribune with 23 television stations and slew of newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and  Los Angeles Times.

The new Tribune board mambers are: Jeffrey Berg, chairman and CEO of ICM; Brian Greenspun, president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun; William Pate, chief investment officer of Equity Group Investments; Maggie Wilderotter, CEO Citizens Communications; and Frank Wood, CEO of Secret Communications.

Additionally, William Osborn, CEO of Northern Trust Corp., and Betsy Holden, a senior advisor to McKinsey & Co., have each been re-elected to the board.

The new executives are Randy Michaels, as executive vp and CEO of interactive and broadcasting, and Gerald Spector, as executive vp and chief administrative officer.

Zell’s investment when the buyot deal was struck almost nine months ago was to be $250 million, though that swelled to $315 million. Plus, he owns warrants to buy about 40% of the company, formally owned through an employee stock ownership plan.

Zell and his partners paid $34 a share for Tribune, and its shares closed for the last time on the New York Stock Exchange at $33.98 Thursday, up 49% from its 52-week low.
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