Tribune Media Returns to Wall Street Big Leagues as of Dec. 5

Peter Liguori
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Tribune Media will see its stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange as of Dec. 5, marking a return to Wall Street’s big leagues two years after the company emerged from a prolonged bankruptcy proceeding.

As of October, Tribune had 94.8 million Class A shares outstanding. The company’s shares have traded on the OTC Bulletin Board since it came out of bankruptcy in December 2012.

Tribune previously went public in 1983 and traded on the NYSE until 2007, when real estate mogul Sam Zell took the company private and instituted a convoluted employee-ownership structure. That saddled the company with $13 billion in debt just as the global financial crisis hit. Tribune filed for bankruptcy in December 2008.

The return to the NYSE will help give Tribune Media a higher public profile and garner more attention from investors and the Wall Street analyst community. Returning to a major exchange has been a priority for Tribune Media CEO since he took the reins in January 2013.

Earlier this year, Liguori (pictured) orchestrated the spinoff of Tribune’s newspaper assets into a separate company, leaving the slimmed-down Tribune Media with 42 TV stations, the WGN America cabler and digital entertainment data operations in the U.S. and selected international markets. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Tribune Media had net income of $161 million on revenue of $1.24 billion.

“We recognize that there is a lot of interest in the stock,” Liguori said in September at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “It would be good for us to open our stock up to more investors.”

According to a Dec. 1 SEC filing in connection with the NYSE listing, Tribune’s majority shareholders as of Oct. 31 remain the financial firms that bailed it out during the Chapter 11 process: Oaktree Funds, with an 18.7% stake, Angelo Gordon Funds (9%) and JPMorgan Entities (8.5%).

The filing also discloses that Liguori, the former Fox and Discovery Communications exec, pulled in $8.7 million in compensation in 2013, including a $250,000 signing bonus. He earned $1.5 million in base salary and another $1.75 million in bonus, plus he was awarded more than $5 million in Tribune stock and options.

Liguori’s contract with the company runs through Dec. 31, 2016. For 2014, the contract calls for a bump in his base salary to $1.6 million.

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