Los Angeles Times owner was $13 billion in debt in 2008

The long-embattled Tribune Co. will emerge from bankruptcy on Dec. 31, according to a report Friday in Reuters.

Company, which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun, has sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the last four years.

The Chicago-based company expects to emerge from bankruptcy with all of its assets, according to Reuters. Observers had expected Tribune to emerge from its long slog by the end of this year.

Hobbled by $13 billion in debt, Tribune was forced into bankruptcy in December 2008. That came just a year after Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell led a leveraged buyout that took the company private and turned it into an employee-owned entity.

Tribune cleared one of the last big hurdles to emerging from bankruptcy in November when the Federal Communications Commission approved the transfer of the broadcast licenses for its 23 television stations to a new corporate entity. Post bankruptcy, Oaktree Capital Management will have the largest equity stake in Tribune with about 22%, followed by Angelo Gordon (9%) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (8%), according to the org.

In all, Tribune owns stations reaching about 35% of U.S. television households, including 13 CW affiliates in New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Washington, D.C.; South Florida; Denver; St. Louis; Portland, Ore.; Indianapolis; Hartford, Conn.; and New Orleans. It also has seven Fox affils, two MyNetwork TV and the ABC affil in New Orleans. Tribune has duopolies (ownership of two stations in the same market) in Seattle, Indianapolis, Hartford and New Orleans.

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