Tribune accepts 126 mil shares in tender offer


CHICAGO -- Media conglomerate Tribune Co. on Thursday completed the first step of its move to go private, announcing it had accepted for payment 126 million of about 218.1 million shares tendered in an offer priced at $34 per share.

Preliminary results of the offer were announced last Friday.

The shares tendered represent approximately 90% of shares outstanding, with the shares Tribune is repurchasing representing about 52% of outstanding shares. Tribune will have about 117 million outstanding shares after the buyback.

The company said it will pay for the shares in cash no later than Tuesday and will return the shares it does not buy to the tendering stockholders at its own expense.

"The first stage of our transaction that will result in Tribune Company going private is now complete. We look forward to obtaining the necessary approvals for the next stage of the transaction and to completing the transition to a private company," Tribune Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons said in a statement.

Shareholders must still sign off on the deal at a meeting this fall. It is planned to take effect in the fourth quarter.

The company sold more than $7 billion in loans to finance the offer, and because of market skepticism about the newspaper business, the borrowing rates were steeper than expected.

Tribune owns 11 daily newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, along with 23 television stations and the Chicago Cubs. It is being taken private under a buyout led by billionaire investor Sam Zell.

Shares of Tribune fell 5 cents to $32.20 Thursday.