Tribune Hires Bankruptcy Advisers; May File Ch. 11 This Week

Tribune, the Sam Zell-owned newspaper chain, has hired bankruptcy advisers in an attempt to stave off potential bankruptcy filing, reports NYT, citing sources. It is using investment bank Lazard and the law firm Sidley Austin, to try and restructure its crippling debt and assess its options, the story says. The WSJ, which reported the news first, says Tribune could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as early as this week….

Last month, the company reported a Q3 loss of $124 million, compared with earnings of $84 million for the same period last year. Publishing advertising revenues slid 19 percent ($111 million), and as part of that, interactive revenues dropped 7 percent ($4 million). The company has about $12 billion in borrowings, and stayed ahead of the interest payments as a result of asset sales, but the economy and resulting ad decline continues to hit it hard. The company doesn’t have enough cash to pay $1 billion in interest payments this year, and also owes a $512 million debt payment in June.

The bankruptcy possibility was raised back in June by S&P analyst Emile Courtney. For all the gory details on the Tribune saga, read our dedicated Tribune section.

Update: Another story in the NYT has some more: Rating agencies say Tribune

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