Sunday, October 31, 2010
The filing in a Delaware court set the stage for a showdown with those who back the company's plan for getting out of bankruptcy. That plan has the support of other creditors including some big hedge funds and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
An examiner's report earlier this year said part of the buyout deal engineered by Zell might be "an intentional fraudulent conveyance." That opens the door to legal challenges to banker fees, creditor claims and billions in payments to shareholders.
Aurelius, a Tribune creditor, is known for its aggressive tactics in bankruptcy. A steady stream of litigators from law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer Feld LLP filed requests with Delaware's bankruptcy court to appear on the hedge fund's behalf as it prepared for a showdown.
Under Aurelius Capital Management's plan, a reserve would be created for holders of the company's bonds.
Aurelius would then aggressively pursue lawsuits against Zell, the lenders who supported his leveraged buyout in 2007, advisers and company executives among others.
As part of the company-backed reorganization plan, JPMorgan, Merrill Lynch, Merrill's parent Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc agreed to pay $120 million to settle claims over the fees paid to leveraged-buyout bankers.
Tribune's attempts to exit Chapter 11 have recently been overshadowed by a management upheaval.
The case is In Re Tribune Co, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Noting that Fox briefly pulled online access of its programming from Cablevision internet subscribers, PK said:
"They settled amongst themselves … again," Lauria said, noting key junior creditors were absent from the negotiations.
The Tribune-Oaktree plan has critical mass, given that the biggest constituencies in the case have signed on. It also has the seal of approval of the court-appointed mediator who helped negotiate it.
But Brodsky argues that because the Tribune plan was essentially an agreement among the potential defendants of the buyout claims, "without ever including the bondholders in the negotiation," the presiding judge would have a hard time confirming it.
Brodsky said Aurelius on Friday will submit its plan, which will conclude that there is no chance of a negotiated settlement in the case. Instead, Aurelius will propose that all of the buyout-related claims be put into a litigation trust, preserving them for future court battles. The company could then exit bankruptcy without having to wait for the results of the litigation, which could stretch out for years.
No releases would be granted, but a large portion of the company's value would be distributed to the various parties, most of it going to the senior creditors. A similarly large portion, however, would be reserved to compensate the victors of the court battles. Defendants would include the lenders and advisers to the Zell deal, directors and officers at the time, including Zell, and shareholders who profited.
Bankruptcy experts say Aurelius is likely using the threat of such massive litigation to extract a better settlement from the senior creditors. But if the plan fails, documents suggest Aurelius would switch to another strategy: trying to discredit the Tribune Co. plan by raising questions about the suitability of several key parties who approved it: the creditors committee, Liebentritt and the special committee of the company's board.
Aurelius recently asked the court to replace Tribune Co. officials with a bankruptcy trustee, arguing that executives and board members were conflicted in brokering a settlement in the case. It has since backed off that request.
Transcripts of depositions related to the motion show that Aurelius lawyers grilled Mark Shapiro and Maggie Wilderotter, two members of the special board committee, with questions about the settlement they had approved two days earlier. The apparent goal was to show that they had not lived up to their fiduciary duty by analyzing whether the settlement was fair to creditors like Aurelius. Questioning focused on whether they understood the deal themselves or whether they relied on the counsel of Tribune Co. advisers who may have been conflicted.
In one exchange, an attorney pressed Shapiro, chairman of the special committee, about the logic behind a $120 million payment that is central to the Tribune-Oaktree plan.
"So, in other words," the lawyer said, "if I were to ask you how the $120 million number was arrived at, you would not be able to tell me?"
"Relied on my financial advisers for that," Shapiro replied.
Similarly, a different Aurelius attorney asked Wilderotter about the size of the claim that was being settled for $120 million. After looking at her notes, she gave the wrong answer.
Neither Shapiro nor Wilderotter returned calls for comment.
Aurelius lawyers also asked Wilderotter if the board had considered whether Liebentritt, who has long worked for Zell, one of the key targets of litigation, should be viewed as having conflicts that would be disruptive to brokering a settlement. They further asked the board members about evidence Liebentritt may have lost their confidence or that of various constituents in the case.
Tribune Co. declined to comment.
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BBC Journalist Union NUJ Sets Strikes Over Pension Plan, While Technicians Union BECTU Accepts 'Final Offer'
By STEVE CLARKE - VarietyBBC journalists have called two 48-hour strikes starting next week in the dispute over staff pension reform. But the pubcaster's other main union, BECTU, which represents technicians, has voted to accept what director general Mark Thompson described as a final offer.
The journos' first two-day walkout begins Nov. 5, with the second set to begin Nov. 15, following a 70% vote in favor of the move. More strikes are being lined up over the December holiday season.
The offer accepted by Bectu bases pensions on average pay instead of the existing final salary scheme, regarded as one of the most generous pension plans in the U.K.
National Union of Journalists general secretary Jeremy Dear said, "This massive vote against the BBC's latest proposal comes as no surprise, given the fundamental 'pay more, work longer, get less' nature of the offer. NUJ members across the BBC have consistently dubbed the proposals pensions robbery. That hasn't changed."
The NUJ represents 17% of the pubcaster's staff.
In an email to employees after the results of the strike ballots were announced on Thursday, Lucy Adams, director of people at the BBC, said management was "pleased that the offer was accepted by the majority of union members."
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All journalists are challenged in this current digital age, but few have been as abused or ill-served as those under the stewardship of Tribune Co. since real-estate billionaire Sam Zell took over the Chicago-based conglomerate. Fortunately, that sorry chapter is one step closer to being over.
Zell's hire as CEO, Randy Michaels, has finally resigned, after dragging the company through various rounds of staff cuts (to be fair, there have been a lot of those all over) and a series of decided unique embarrassments tied to a frat-boy management team and culture, handily delineated in David Carr's recent New York Times page one opus.
Clearly, Michaels was in over his head, and exhibited a kind of contempt for traditional journalism that was disguised as "innovation" -- a word that will never quite be viewed the same thanks to Lee Abrams' dim-witted memos.
Still, the blame for these last few years at Tribune ultimately resides with Zell, who swooped in, acquired the company using an arcane financing formula and proceeded to gut it, refusing to admit that what he didn't know about media would have filled the Tribune Tower. Or as Rem Reider put it in the American Journalism Review:
"Zell was one of those rich guys who thought because he had so much money, he knew more about everything than anyone else. With his free-wheeling ways, unencumbered by bureaucrats and uptight, old-school notions about journalism, he was going to turn things around."
Consumer newspapers and to a slightly lesser extent local television have already been dying the death of a thousand small cuts. Those at Tribune helped hasten the process, however, and along the way made it even more brutal on employees than it needed to be.
They deserve each other, and their own special place in, er. Zell.
Here's the key passage from the new four-member management committee that will replace Michaels, consisting of Don Liebentritt, Chief Restructuring Officer, Nils Larsen, Chief Investment Officer, Tony Hunter, President, Publisher and CEO of Chicago Tribune Company, and Eddy Hartenstein, Publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times Communications.
Let's hope it's true:
"We also believe that Tribune’s greatest asset is its employees and we know how much pride you take in your work and in this company. During the last few weeks the company has drawn a lot of media attention, much of it negative. That coverage has diverted attention from the things that matter most: The quality of our media products, the talent and dedication of our people, and the very real progress that we’ve made over the last two-and-a-half years. Now, it is time to move forward and focus on the future."
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Also from the Tribune, in the wake of the resignation of CEO Randy Michaels, an apology to its readers for its morally bankrupt corporate culture.
[Our executives] conduct has embarrassed us in front of our readers, our advertisers, our business partners and our families. It has left us answering questions about whether reports of their actions reflect the environment in which we work. We want to tell you that Chicago Tribune employees, including those who work in our newsroom, don’t conduct themselves in the manner attributed to some Tribune Co. executives.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
And 3 million Cablevision homes are without Fox programming which includes the National League baseball championship series between the Giants and Phillies and NO NFL football and consumers, politicians are all getting into the act.
Monday, 10/18/10, Charles Schueler, Cablevision's executive vice president of communications, put out this release stating: "When broadcasters like News Corp. remove their signals, they hurt viewers in an attempt to gain business leverage. Cablevision agrees to submit to binding arbitration, as called for by more than 50 elected officials from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as the fastest and fairest way to return Fox programming to Cablevision viewers. We call on News Corp. to do the same."
The fight over retransmission is a continuing battle and a prime example of how networks are struggling for profit. Advertising dollars in many respects are shrinking as money is redistributed to 'New Media' portals.
But the networks are seeing their programming cost escalate. Networks broadcast their signals free over the airwaves but with increased programming costs especially with live sporting events networks are pitted against cable TV and satellite operators for dollars for their programming and signals.
The networks are claiming the cable operators are charging hefty subscription fees every month.
Editors note: Just examine the number of broadcast packages offered by any cable/satellite company and if you are a customer you know those fees. And in many respects consumers in the current economy have cut back on their paid programming packages.
Now we have the first mega stand off between two giants and it is over money and once this is resolved wonder how much the consumer is going to pay.
The New Jersey delegation to the US Senate, Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), are calling for the FCC to impose itself into the dispute over retransmission fees between News Corp./Fox and Cablevision. The senators represent constituents in both the New York and Philadelphia DMAs, both affected by the dispute.
In a letter for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, they urged the FCC to act as an intermediary between the two, and to begin swift action of a petition to modify the rules governing retransmission consent negotiations pending since March.
“Unfortunately, the FOX and Cablevision dispute is not an isolated incident,” they asserted. “Disputes between broadcasters and video providers appear to be increasing. Just last March, Cablevision and Disney/WABC-TV failed to reach an agreement and the WABC-TV signal was pulled from Cablevision. While that signal was eventually restored, it was only after Cablevision customers were without WABC-TV for approximately 20 hours, including the first 15 minutes of the Academy Awards broadcast."
They concluded, “We urge the FCC to work diligently and expeditiously to consider the comments that have been filed on that petition and revise its rules. We ask that the FCC provide us with a response within five business days that outlines a firm schedule for the FCC’s action on the pending retransmission consent petition (MB Docket No. 10-71). Continued delay in reforming the retransmission consent process will only harm consumers in New Jersey and throughout the country.”
Consumer note: If you check the web, News Corp. set up a website pointing Cablevision subscribers to find other ways to get Fox programming, http://www.keepfoxon.com/ helps consumers find providers by zip code.
FCC Issues Consumer Advisory Over Fox/Cablevision Dispute
Consumers stuck in the middle of the retransmission fee dispute between News Corporation programming properties and MVPD Cablevision are no doubt frustrated. The FCC responded by issuing a consumer advisory that explains what’s going on and suggests options that may be at a Cablevision subscribers’ disposal.
First among them is one that Cablevision might not be too fond of – it is the option of going to a competing MVPD. The FCC notes that AT&T, DIRECTV, DISH Network, RCN (limited areas of Brooklyn), and Verizon FIOS are possibilities, although not all are available throughout the Cablevision service area.
The FCC also suggests picking the three affected Fox television O&Os -- WNYW & WWOR in the New York City area and WTXF in the Philadelphia area, directly off air, using a digital receiver or an analog receiver run through a converter box, each with an appropriate antenna.
RBR-TVBR observation: Despite frequent requests from elected politicians, the FCC has taken pains to point out that it has very little power to do anything. It also made a statement that echoes what the NAB has been saying all along. It’s statement – “In almost all cases, agreement is reached and the station is carried without interruption.” – is practically NAB boilerplate.
Legislators make the law – maybe they should learn the law as well. By law, this is a free negotiation – according to the FCC, other than requiring that negotiations be conducted “in good faith” – and try proving bad faith in court some time – Congress has given the FCC no teeth in the matter.
The danger here, of course, is that Congress WILL do some lawmaking. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) is already on record saying he will get the ball rolling.
Companies that want to play hardball within the business – and Cablevision is a frequent player – just ask Disney/ABC and Scripps/Food Net/HGTV – may soon find themselves playing hardball on Capitol Hill.
Broadcast Union News: The airwaves belong to the people, you remember, the "We The People" mentioned from time to time. Perhaps Fox doesn't deserve an FCC license and maybe Cablevision subscribers should get a rebate on their cable bill for services purchased, but not provided. Greedy and greedier, fighting over who can gouge the most is particularly ugly when the public interest is ignored. Shame on them both.
RBR-TVBR: Who are the directors at the Tribune Company who will decide whether CEO Randy Michaels should stay or go? Only a few of the nine are likely to be well known to people in media industries.
There are 10 board members in all, but we will exclude Randy Michaels from this list of those deciding his fate.
Board Chairman Sam Zell is the one who recruited Michaels to come to Tribune. They had been previously associated at Jacor Communications, where Zell came in as the primary owner in a financial restructuring. He, Michaels and their investors made big profits when Jacor was merged with Clear Channel. Michaels stayed and became the head of Clear Channel Radio for several years until his clashes with the members of the founding Mays family became too much for either side to live with.
Very well known to RBR-TVBR readers is Frank Wood, CEO of Secret Communications, which was once a radio group owner and is now a venture capital company. He was once president of Jacor Communications.
Also on the Tribune board is Mark Shapiro, Partner and CEO of Dick Clark Productions as well as a network media consultant for the National Football League. He was previously CEO of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation.
Tribune director Jeffrey S. Berg is Chairman and CEO of International Creative Management Inc., one of the world’s premiere talent and literary agencies.
Brian L. Greenspun is Chairman and CEO of The Greenspun Corporation, a privately owned firm based in Henderson, NV, with interests in media and commercial real estate development. He also is President and Editor of the Las Vegas Sun, which has been exclusively an online newspaper for several years.
Betsy D. Holden is a senior advisor to McKinsey & Company. She previously served as president of global marketing and category development at Kraft Foods Inc. from January 2004 through June 2005 and before that was the company’s co-CEO from 2001 to 2003 and president and CEO of Kraft Foods North America from 2000 to 2003.
William A. Osborn is Chairman and a director of Northern Trust Corporation, a large banking company.
William Pate is chief investment officer for Equity Group Investments LLC, a privately held investment firm controlled by Sam Zell.
Maggie Wilderotter is Chairman and CEO of Frontier Communications Corporation, a telecom company serving mostly rural areas and small communities.
Friday, October 15, 2010
In its decision, the Board said, "It is undisputed that the Union requested bargaining over the effects of the layoffs announced on January 9, and that (KGTV) refused that request. Having found that (KGTV) has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, we shall order it to cease and desist and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the (National Labor Relations) Act."
The NLRB ordered KGTV to bargain with the Union over the layoffs and provided limited back pay —with interest— for the employees. In ordering the backpay, the Board said, "Because of (KGTV's) unlawful conduct, however, the laid-off unit employees have been denied an opportunity to bargain through their collective-bargaining representative. Meaningful bargaining cannot be assured until some measure of economic strength is restored to the Union."
The Board ordered KGTV to turn over "all payroll records, social security payment records, timecards, personnel records and reports, and all other records, including an electronic copy of such records if stored in electronic form, necessary to analyze the amount of back pay due under the terms of this Order."
Regarding Csillag's access to the Union office, the Board ordered KGTV to immediately "restore the parties’ past practice of permitting" access to the office.
"This decision really exposes KGTV as a poor steward of the money invested by McGraw-Hill shareholders," Csillag said. "Management made these bad decisions solely on the advice of their union-busting law firm — which cares nothing about shareholder value — and then spent tens of thousands of dollars defending those decisions. It was nothing more than part of a power play to convince employees to withdraw support for their Union. But our members were hurt and we're pleased the Board didn't let KGTV get away with unlawful conduct," Csillag said.
McGraw-Hill and KGTV have been involved in a union-busting campaign since 2006, and have refused NABET-CWA's efforts to seek resolution.
More information on the Local 54 campaign at KGTV can be found at: 10NewsUnfair.com
“This case has been languishing before the NLRB since 2003, and points out the total failure of U.S. labor law when it comes to workers’ rights,” said CWA President Larry Cohen. “CNN set out to get rid of union workers and their bargaining rights. Despite overwhelming evidence that CNN broke the law, today, nearly eight years later, workers still are denied justice. It’s time for the NLRB to take action.”
In November 2008, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan issued a scathing decision against CNN, finding that the network created a phony reorganization scheme to get rid of workers because they had a union, the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA. The judge said that CNN engaged in “widespread and egregious misconduct, demonstrating a flagrant and general disregard” for workers’ rights.
He ordered the immediate reinstatement of the 110 workers who were not rehired through CNN’s scam hiring system, called for the restoration of the economic losses of all 250 workers and ordered CNN to recognize and bargain with NABET-CWA. None of CNN’s defenses was accepted by the judge.
“Two years after that decision, after the NLRB judge confirmed CNN’s union-busting practices, CNN technicians still are waiting for justice,” said NABET-CWA Sector President Jim Joyce. He added, “Without a doubt this is the largest back pay case currently in front of the NLRB nationally. CNN’s liability is well over $100 million, and it is time for the Board to definitively act.”
The Union’s motion calls on the NLRB to give this case priority over all other pending cases. This action is necessary, CWA said, because none of the remedies ordered by the ALJ in 2008 have been implemented and more than 204 workers are due substantial remediation. “The saying ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ has particular relevance to violations of the National Labor Relations Act,” CWA said, because such delay makes it more difficult for workers to believe they will ever obtain justice under the law. The Union called for a decision to be issued without further delay.
More information on this story, a link to the filed motion, can be found here:
Thursday, October 14, 2010
By Alex Weprin
The participants in the meeting were Jordan Goldstein, senior director of regulatory affairs for Comcast, Margaret Tobey, VP of regulatory affairs for NBC Universal as well as outside counsel for both companies. For the FCC, staffers from the office of the general counsel, office of strategic planning & policy analysis and from the FCC’s media bureau were all represented.
According to the ex parte letter, which was filed with the FCC October 7, the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the public interest commitments made by Comcast, as well as what role the new company would play in the FCC’s “Future of Media” project. NBC’s news and public affairs programming looks to play a big part of that, if this section of the letter is any indication:
Specifically, the participants discussed both companies’ historic and ongoing commitments to their local communities and the ways in which the transaction will benefit communities and citizens by allowing NBCU to expand its production and distribution of local news on multiple platforms. In addition, the participants discussed commitments offered by Comcast with respect to public, educational, and governmental (“PEG”) programming. Consistent with the goals of the FOM proceeding, Comcast and NBCU also provided information on the companies’ efforts to nurture the next generation of professional journalists.
Unfortunately, the specifics of what was discussed was not included in the letter, so the “companies’ efforts to nurture the next generation of professional journalists” will have to remain a mystery for now. But if nothing else, the meeting shows that the FCC is seriously looking at whether Comcast has any intention of changing NBC News or the network’s local and public interest programming in any way.
Others have speculated that Comcast is more likely to make changes at MSNBC, which the FCC does not have authority over. The problem there is that Comcast is a cable business partner of News Corp., which owns Fox News Channel, and Time Warner, which owns CNN.
For its part, Comcast maintains that it will keep the cable division of its business separate from the content division.
Robservations on the media beat
Overshadowed by the frat house hijinks detailed in David Carr’s New York Times opus on Tribune Co. last week was a potentially more damaging allegation — that owner Sam Zell tried to use the Chicago Tribune to benefit his other business interests.
Former editor Ann Marie Lipinski recalled a June 2008 meeting at which the billionaire mogul told her the newspaper should be harder on then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. (“Don’t be a pussy,” she quoted Zell saying. “You can always be harder on him.”) Later that day, she learned that Zell was negotiating to sell Wrigley Field to the state sports authority. Lipinski quit the following month. “It was hard to avoid the conclusion that he was trying to use the newspaper to put pressure on Blagojevich,” said Lipinski, who’s now a vice president at the University of Chicago.
Though current Tribsters deny any influence from Zell, Capitol Fax editor Rich Miller isn’t buying it. “It’s just ridiculous,” he says. “When are they ever going to come clean on this?”
Robert Feder has been keeping tabs on the media in Chicago for 30 years. A lifelong Chicagoan and graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, he was television and radio columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. At age 14, he founded the first and only Walter Cronkite Fan Club.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey extended the filing deadlines in Tribune Co.’s bankruptcy case Wednesday to give rival creditor groups more time to propose alternative restructuring plans for the Chicago-based media company.
The move will push the first disclosure hearing on those plans into late November and guarantees that the all-important confirmation hearings in the case won’t be held until sometime next year.
Carey had earlier given Tribune Co. and its various creditor constituencies until this Friday to file any restructuring plans. But junior creditors asked that a company-sponsored plan negotiated earlier this week be filed first and that they be given two extra weeks to decide whether to file competing plans.
The judge said Tribune Co. and its partners would have to file its plan by Oct. 22 and any other plans would be due by Oct. 29. The mandatory disclosure statement hearing to release the competing plans for vote would be held Nov. 29.
The Tribune Co. group includes senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management and Angelo, Gordon & Co.; banks represented by JPMorgan Chase, and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, which represents the interests junior creditors.
That plan would give the junior bondholders $420 million, or about 33 cents on the dollar, and provide another $102 million to pay off retirees and general unsecured creditors. Senior creditors would end up owning the company.
But a number of other creditor constituencies, including Aurelius Capital Management, the largest junior bondholder, have signaled they will reject the proposal.
Bloomberg reported that at least five creditor groups told Carey during a telephone conference Wednesday that they needed time to study Tribune’s bankruptcy-exit plan before they could decide whether to file their own.
Any of the plans will seek to settle claims brought by junior bondholders that Tribune Co.’s 2007 leveraged buyout, which was orchestrated by Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell, left the company insolvent.
Tribune Co., which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, WGN Ch. 9, WPIX, KTLA, and many other media properties, has been in bankruptcy since Dec. 8, 2008.
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According to media columnist Phil Rosenthal at the flagship Chicago Tribune – and thus a recipient of employee emails – one video that the Abrams email linked to was “labeled ‘Sluts’ in which a gyrating woman appeared to pour liquor on her bare breasts.”
Abrams quickly issued an apology, but the new controversy was the last thing the company needed as it tries to nail down its emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
A Tribune company spokesman confirmed to RBR-TVBR Wednesday that Abrams had been suspended. The company is making no other public comment. However, the suspension announcement from CEO Randy Michaels is readily available from employees.
Message from Randy Michaels/Lee Abrams Suspended
"I want to let you know that today we made the decision to suspend Lee Abrams from his position as Tribune’s Chief Innovation Officer. He will remain on suspension indefinitely and without pay while we review the circumstances surrounding the email and video link he distributed on Monday. We’re in the process of determining further disciplinary action."
"Lee recognizes that the video was in extremely bad taste and that it offended employees—he has also apologized publicly. He reiterated those feelings again to me privately today. But, this is the kind of serious mistake that can’t be tolerated; we intend to address it promptly and forcefully. "
"As I said last week, a creative culture must be built on a foundation of respect. Our culture is not about being offensive or hurtful. We encourage employees to speak up when they see or hear something that they find offensive, as a number of employees did with regard to this particular email. I can assure you, you will be heard, Randy”
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
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Dr. Joshua Freeman is an award-winning teacher and author of the acclaimed book Working Class New York. He serves as consulting editor for New Labor Forum, and is the Executive Officer and a Professor in the doctoral program in History at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Dr. Stephanie Luce has gained widespread recognition for her work on Living Wage campaigns as well as the effects of globalization on jobs and workers. She comes to JSMI from UMass, Amherst, where she was an Associate Professor and Director of Research at the Labor Center.
Dr. Penny Lewis, Assistant Professor of Labor Studies, is an award-winning teacher who has taught at CUNY schools, Brown, and Barnard. Her areas of scholarship include social movements, social class and the contemporary labor movement.
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This settlement expands upon the previously-announced settlement with Oaktree and Angelo Gordon with respect to Step 1, and comes as a result of the court-ordered mediation overseen by U. S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Kevin Gross.
"With the able assistance of Judge Gross, we continue to achieve success in our mediation efforts, and are pleased to have now expanded the plan settlement to include the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors," said Don Liebentritt, Tribune's Chief Restructuring Officer. "The additional value being allocated to our bondholders and other unsecured creditors represents a fair and equitable settlement for all of our constituencies. We remain confident that Tribune continues on a path toward resolution of its Chapter 11 cases that maximizes the value of the bankruptcy estates, preserves all stakeholders' legitimate entitlements and enables the company to conclude its bankruptcy proceedings as soon as possible."
An important component of the new settlement is the contribution of $120 million in cash by recipients of pre-bankruptcy payments on the Incremental tranche of the Tribune Senior Loan and the Bridge Loan facilities through an optional settlement of those claims, with the arrangers for those facilities providing a backstop to ensure that the estates receive the full settlement payment on the plan's effective date.
As with the previously-announced settlement, this agreement allows for the distribution of the equity of the reorganized Tribune and its subsidiaries pro rata to the holders of the Initial and Incremental Senior Loan claims.
In addition, claims and causes of action against various parties (including advisors, directors and officers involved in the 2007 transactions) will be preserved and placed in a litigation trust and pursued for the benefit of creditors of Tribune. The first $90 million of recoveries from the trust will be allocated to Tribune's general unsecured creditors, including its bondholders. The litigation trust will allow an independent litigation trustee to pursue legal action relating to the remaining fraudulent conveyance issues alleged by various unsecured creditors, while minimizing the possible negative impact these litigation issues might have on the company's business operations.
The company intends to file a plan of reorganization and disclosure statement incorporating both settlement agreements with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware by Friday, Oct. 15.
SOURCE Tribune Company