Gannett, Greenberg pursuing Tribune


NEW YORK -- Gannett Co. Inc., the largest U.S. newspaper company, and Maurice Greenberg, the former chairman of the insurance giant American International Group, are each considering bids for Tribune Co., according to media reports.

After putting in a bid for the whole company, Gannett executives visited Tribune's Chicago headquarters to hear management's presentations, the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times -- both Tribune papers -- reported over the weekend. The Wall Street Journal also reported the meeting in its online edition on Sunday.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Greenberg too is considering a bid for Tribune and has been reaching out to investment bankers and lawyers about pursuing an offer.

Greenberg has also expressed interest in pursuing The Boston Globe, owned by the New York Times, and Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal.

Gannett's pursuit of Tribune forms part of an already crowded field of suitors, which includes several groups of private equity firms.

Asked about Greenberg's interest in Tribune and other newspapers, a spokesman for the former executive told Reuters that "Greenberg is exploring several options regarding media companies."

A Tribune spokesman declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Gannett, publisher of USA Today, also declined to comment.

Tribune, with a market value of about $8 billion, is trying to sell itself against the background of weak financial results, an uncertain future and pressure from the Chandler family, a major shareholder.

Tribune assets also include New York's Newsday and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Its shares rose 48 cents, or 1.5%, to $32.39 in trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Since opening the bidding process, Tribune has reached out to several media groups, including Gannett, Hearst Corp. and Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group Inc., the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company also has been in contact with News Corp., which is interested in Newsday in New York, the Journal said.

MediaNews had informal discussions with Tribune about some of its assets, such as the Hartford Courant and the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut, but hasn't had any meetings with the company, the Journal said, citing one person familiar with the matter.

Three private equity groups have already submitted bids for Tribune, sources previously told Reuters. One group consists of Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners. Another includes Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Apollo Management. The third is Bain Capital.

Carlyle Group has also looked at Tribune.

Greenberg joins a list of other wealthy individuals expressing interest in the struggling newspaper industry.

Los Angeles billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad and fellow billionaire Ron Burkle have made a bid to buy Tribune, a source close to the situation has previously told Reuters..

The news of a bid by Broad and Burkle, a grocery store chain investor, came a day after Los Angeles Times editor Dean Baquet said he would leave the paper after Baquet lost a battle to resist job cuts.