Inside Move: Tribune a hard sell

No new suitors emerge for conglom

The Tribune Co.’s slow-moving search for a buyer shows no sign of a resolution in the wake of Wednesday’s deadline for bids.

No new significant suitors emerged for the media conglom, whose 11 papers and 23 television stations include the L.A. Times and KTLA, and analysts said the lack of offers significantly higher than its current stock value of $7.25 billion could mean the company might not go through with a sale at all.

Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman declined comment.

In a research note published last week, Merrill Lynch analyst Lauren Rich Fine noted the bid process had not lifted Tribune stock, concluding, “Investors appear to anticipate that no sale will transpire; we think there is a distinct possibility of that happening and note that even if there is a sale, a big premium is unlikely.”

Among those known to have submitted bids are L.A. billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, who have teamed on a bid for all of Tribune. David Geffen has offered $2 billion for the L.A. Times alone.

The Chandler family, which is Tribune’s largest shareholder and initially pushed the company to seek out buyers, reportedly was preparing a bid.

The company had originally set a bid deadline at the end of last year but, after it was unsatisfied with offers, extended it to Wednesday in hopes new suitors would come forward.