The Tribune Co. is about to become two companies.
The Chicago Tribune reported this morning
that the media company plans to divorce its publishing arm—which is the home to eight daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times
, the Tribune
and the Baltimore Sun
—from its TV broadcasting division. The newspaper division will be called Tribune Publishing Co.
The company has been aggressively expanding its TV offerings, most recently with a $2.7 billion deal to buy 19 stations
. Tribune Co. now owns 42 TV stations, including the national superstation WGN.
In a statement, Tribune Co. CEO Peter Liguori said separating the two parts of the company “is designed to allow each company to maximize its flexibility and competitiveness in a rapidly changing media environment.”
That sounds a lot like code for selling the Tribune
’s newspapers off, a move the company has attempted in the past
, though the company hasn’t confirmed it will head in that direction. The Tribune
did report the spinoff of the newspaper division removes a substantial tax hurdle from the sale process should it start up again.
As many as 40 bidders have expressed interest in buying the Tribune Co.’s newspapers, including David and Charles Koch, businessmen known as much for their contributions to conservative political candidates and causes as their business exploits.
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The eight daily newspapers under the Tribune Co. banner are valued at about $623 million.
In a memo to employees, Liguori seemed optimistic:
"We expect that this transaction will serve our shareholders and employees well, and put these businesses in a strong position for continued success,” he wrote.
JimRomenesko.com has the full memo here
In an interview on Bloomberg TV
, Michael Wolff, author of the Rupert Murdoch biography “The Man Who Owns the News,” says the split makes “the broadcast leg immediately strong.”
“Newspapers are depressive,” he said. “They’re depressive on share price and they’re depressive because they take up an enormous amount of attention.”