Friday, June 16, 2006

Tribune's directors defend buyback

Tribune's directors defend buyback, respond to Chandlers' accusations

Orlando Business Journal
1:21 PM EDT Friday

In a letter released late Thursday, Tribune Co.'s seven independent directors fired back a response to a recent letter from the Chandler family calling for the breakup or reorganization of the company.

The directors strongly defended Tribune's decision to approve a $2 million stock buyback program and suggested that the Chandler family was looking out for its own self-interest "at the expense of other shareholders" with the suggestion of breaking up the company.

The family owned the "Los Angeles Times" and its parent company, the Times Mirror Co., from 1884 until its sale to Chiacgo-based Tribune -- which also owns the "Orlando Sentinel" -- in 2000.

The letter was a major show of support for Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimmons and suggested the Chandlers have little chance of winning board support for a larger restructuring.

The letter appeared to respond directly to a call from the Chandlers to establish a committee of independent board directors to explore alternatives for the company.

In the letter, the directors said other transactions like the ones suggested by the Chandlers, including a spinoff of the Tribune TV stations, were "considered by the board prior to the approval of the tender offer." It also noted that a successful stock buyback would not "... preclude the board from considering other strategic alternatives in the future."

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