Tribune Board Appoints “Value Creation” Committee; LAT Not For Sale


The Tribune Company board meeting that some observers speculated could result in some kind of bold action instead wound up after five hours with a fairly typical action: the appointment of an independent special committee “to oversee management’s exploration of alternatives for creating additional value for shareholders.” It’s close to the board equivalent of a “for sale” sign if the numbers are right. The seven indie board members are on the committee, expected to wind up its work by the end of the year. Release.
— As expected, the board voted to restructure two partnerships with the Chandler family acquired with the Times Mirror sale. (The Chandler reps abstained.) The Chandler Trusts will gain more Tribune common stock but have agreed to vote it for a year in a way that shouldn’t alter the outcome of any shareholder votes. The move seems to have had one hoped-for result already — the Chandler family is now promising to work “collaboratively … to build value for all shareholders.”
— So what does all this talk of creating value mean? The Tribune has to go further than its June moves to sell some non-core assets and buy back stock. This time,a mong the options, it could be looking at a sale of the company, a break-up of core assets or a leveraged buyout to go private.
WSJ (sub. req.): Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons told the Journal options included splitting the company in two by separating its newspapers and TV stations as well as a management buyout. FitzSimons: “All of those things are on the table. … (We’ve) “been looking at these options and we decided to make this a more formal process.” But, he said, selling the LAT was unlikely: “Let me just be clear on that. We are looking at alternatives to maximize shareholder value. The L.A. Times is part of Tribune and not for sale.”

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