Is Michael Eisner about to surface at Tribune? The Tribune-owned Los Angeles Times says the former Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) CEO is a contender to replace current chairman Sam Zell once the company emerges from its very messy bankruptcy proceedings. The publication cites four unnamed sources who say that Eisner would be brought on along with Jeff Shell, the current president of Comcast’s programming group and former FOX Cable Networks president, who would be CEO.
Eisner, who left his post at Disney five years ago, told Variety this week that he was buying debt in Tribune Co. — a move that doesn’t seem to have been revealed before — saying that he believed the “salvation of the newspaper is some kind of pay arrangement (online).”
Eisner has made a number of investments since leaving Disney, although until now he doesn’t seem to have shown interest in anything print or news-related — areas which encompass much of Tribune’s holdings. Eisner’s investments have included digital content studio Vuguru, trading card company Topps, and Veoh, a video site, which filed for bankruptcy protection this spring.
The LA Times describes the talks with Eisner as being “exploratory;” the publication says a who’s who of big-name executives have also been approached, including former Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Terry Semel, former AOL (NYSE: AOL) Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) COO Robert Pittman and Sirius XM (NSDQ: SIRI) CEO Mel Karmazin.
Tribune is expected to submit a new re-organization plan by this Friday, although the company’s creditors are expected to raise their own proposals for bringing the company out of Chapter 11. That suggests that this saga could drag out beyond the two-year anniversary of Tribune