The Tribune Co. hasn’t been shy about its desire to raise money through the sale of non-core assets but the Chicago-based company has been adamant about its plans to retain its top media properties. That includes the Los Angeles Times — despite the problems since its 2000 acquisition with the rest of Times Mirror. (Indeed, selling the LAT would be an admission that the Tribune’s strategy of stringing major media outlets together coast to coast may not have been worth the investment and the aftermath.) And yet the Tribune board was careful not to slam the door when thee Los Angeles billionaires approached the company in recent weeks. According to a report in the LAT, letters from David Geffen, Ron Burkle and philanthropist Eli Broad (written at the suggestion of Goldman Sachs, which is representing the Chandler interests) were discussed at a July 19 board meeting and each received a letter from Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimons saying the board “unanimously asked me to advise you that at this time we are not prepared to discuss the possible transaction described in your letter. … If our perspective changes we will contact you.”
Some think the Tribune could raise as much as $3 billion with a sale, says the LAT; the article also describes the paper as “arguably Tribune’s single most valuable asset.” Would be interesting to know how much LATimes.com could contribute to the sale price if it gets that far.
Update: After the market closed, Tribune (TRB) announced that FitzSimons is recovering from successful prostrate cancer surgery performed earlier today. He plans to be back at work full time before the end of August. Release.