Tribune Company, the big broadcasting and newspaper group, emerged from bankruptcy protection Monday -- and is seemingly ready to be sold off to a number of potential media buyers.
With a new board of directors composed mostly of entertainment-industry veterans, the company has now exited bankruptcy after four years -- one of the longest in U.S. corporate history.
At this height, after its buyout from real-estate magnate Sam Zell in December 2008, the company had $12.9 billion in debt -- just as the economy and the media advertising market was collapsing.
Tribune chief executive Eddy Hartenstein is expected to leave -- and veteran TV executive Peter Liguori is expected to succeed him at CEO of Tribune. Liguori had been COO of Discovery Communications and before that ran two News Corp. networks: Fox Broadcasting and the FX cable network.
Tribune owns 23 local television stations -- many in key major markets -- eight daily newspapers and other media properties. It also has a minority position in the Food Network cable channel, whose majority owner is Scripps Network Interactive. It holds a 25% stake in the CareerBuilder Web site.
Tribune will now be a slimmed down company -- especially coming from its newspaper division. Its newspaper properties are a fraction of its pre-bankruptcy value -- $623 million, according to an estimate filed in court. Analysts believe Tribune will look to sell its remaining newspaper assets.
Concerning its TV stations, many major media companies have expressed in. One report says Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is considering those assets.