Tribune Co. has taken another step closer to selling its newspapers with the retention of Evercore Partners and JPMorgan Chase to oversee the auction, according to the company’s flagship Chicago Tribune.
The sale of Tribune’s newspaper properties -- including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles
Times, The Baltimore Sun, and five other daily newspapers -- was widely expected as a follow-up to the company’s bankruptcy reorganization plan. Ownership passed to creditors,
including Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan at the end of last year.
Tribune has been meeting with bankers about the planned sale since December, according to an earlier report from Bloomberg. Potential buyers for the Chicago Tribune are rumored to include Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
So far, the latter’s recent newspaper acquisitions have not included any big metro dailies. (This week Berkshire Hathaway announced the acquisition of the Tulsa World,
circulation 95,000, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.)
In a sign of print media’s dwindling importance, Tribune Co.’s various publishing assets -- once the mainstay of the company -- now account for just $623 million of its estimated $7 billion valuation, according to Lazard, a financial advisory that works with Tribune. The bulk of the company’s valuation comes from its broadcast TV properties -- including 23 TV stations -- and stakes in other media companies, such as the Food Network.
Not coincidentally, Tribune’s new bosses come from the TV business, including CEO Peter Liguori, whose past experience includes a two-year stint as COO at Discovery Communications.
Evercore is having a busy year too. Earlier this month, the company was retained by the New York Times Co. to help it sell The Boston Globe.