JPMorgan Chase and Evercore Partners will oversee a process to consider offers for Tribune Co.'s publishing assets, including the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and six other daily newspapers. JPMorgan is a minority owner of Tribune Co.
|Peter Liguori,Tribune CEO|
Chicago-based Tribune Co. emerged from four years in Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 31, owned by senior creditors Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan. Television executive Peter Liguori was named the new chief executive of Tribune Co. last month.
Liguori's first month on the job has been focused on assessing Tribune Co.'s diverse media assets, including WPIX and 22 other television stations; national cable channel WGN America and WGN Radio. Newspaper holdings also include the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and Orlando Sentinel.
Despite its roots as a newspaper company, broadcasting has supplanted publishing as the core profit center for the company. Tribune Co.'s newspaper holdings have withered to $623 million in total value, according to financial adviser Lazard last year. In 2006, entertainment mogul David Geffen made a $2 billion cash offer for the Los Angeles Times alone.
CNBC first reported that Tribune Co. had hired the investment bankers.
With a clean balance sheet and the company operating profitably, Liguori has said that there will be no "fire sale" of Tribune Co.'s newspapers. The move to hire investment banks to gauge interest is not inconsistent with Liguori's pledge to hear out offers from potential buyers.
Tribune Co.'s print properties are not the only major market newspapers potentially in play. Last week, the New York Times Co. announced that it plans to sell the Boston Globe and its related properties. Evercore Partners has been retained to advise on that process.
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