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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Company denies chairman's participation in takeover bids

Tribune Co. issued a statement Monday seeking to refute a report in the Los Angeles Times that Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis FitzSimons was planning to lead a leveraged buyout of the Chicago-based media conglomerate.

William A. Osborn, Tribune's lead independent director and chairman of a special committee set up to review strategic alternatives for the company, said "the special committee and management agreed that management would not participate as a principal in any of the strategic alternatives without the committee's authorization. Management has remained independent and has not aligned itself with any participant in the process."

The Times, which along with the Chicago Tribune is owned by Tribune Co., reported in Monday's editions that FitzSimons and other executives were hoping to join with three private-equity firms to bid for the company, which has put itself up for sale. Those firms are Chicago's Madison Dearborn Partners, New York's Apollo Management and Providence Equity Partners of Providence, R.I.

The Times also reported that the Chandler family had sought a partnership with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle to prepare a competing bid. Burkle's representative wasn't available to comment. But a person with knowledge of the Chandler family's plans denied it was working with the Los Angeles billionaire. The Chandlers are Tribune's largest shareholder, with a 20 percent stake.

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