Koch Brothers Mulling L.A. Times Bid

Los Angeles Times Building - H 2013
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Los Angeles Times Building - H 2013

The controversial industrialists, who have a long history of funding Republican political causes, may team with the conservative owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Two of the world's richest -- and most controversial -- brothers are considering a bid for the Los Angeles Times.

David and Charles Koch, billionaire industrialists who own Koch Industries, America's second-largest privately held company, have expressed interest in the Tribune Co. newspapers. The Chicago-based empire emerged from a long bankruptcy Dec. 31 and has hired investment firms Evercore and JPMorgan Chase as offers have come in for its print properties.

The Koches, who some sources say are interested in the clout they could gain through the Times' editorial pages, could bid on their own or combine in a bid with Doug Manchester, the San Diego real estate magnate who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in November 2011.

Missy Cohlmia, a spokeswoman for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC, issued the following statement to The Hollywood Reporter: "As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. "

L.A. Weekly was the first to report that the Kochs could be mulling the purchase of Tribune's newspaper assets, which make up $623 million of the company's $7 billion holdings.

Tribune Co. spent more than four years in bankruptcy after being purchased by Sam Zell. Following the company's emergence from chapter 11, it named TV industry veteran Peter Liguori, formerly of Fox Entertainment and News Corp., as its CEO. Several Hollywood figures sit on its board of directors, including Ross Levinsohn, CEO of Guggenheim Digital Media, parent company of THR.

The Koch brothers have long dominated American industry; their holdings include Georgia Pacific paper products as well as major fertilizer, refinery and oil pipeline companies. More recently they have become known for their financial support of Republican candidates, especially those from the Tea Party, and the fight against regulations and legislation aimed at curbing climate change.