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Monday, December 18, 2006

Tribune execs, family said to plan rival bids

By James Rainey, Times Staff Writer
December 18, 2006

Tribune Co. of Chicago and its largest shareholder, California's Chandler family, had hoped to find a way out of their unhappy union when the media company went on the auction block this fall.

But nearly three months after the Chandlers forced Tribune to explore a possible sale or breakup, several prospective buyers have come forward — so far only to express preliminary interest. None has made a binding offer for the company that owns the Los Angeles Times, KTLA-TV Channel 5 and the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

Now the Chandlers and Tribune's management appear to be preparing to fill the void themselves by considering making competing bids for all or parts of the company that they have held in an uneasy alliance for six years.

The Chandlers have been in discussions with billionaire Ron Burkle's investment firm, Yucaipa Cos., about making a joint offer for some or all of Tribune's assets, said two people who are familiar with their plans. The family already owns 20% of Tribune's stock.

Meanwhile, Tribune executives, led by Chief Executive Dennis J. FitzSimons, are expected to enter a bid of their own in alliance with a consortium of three private investment firms, one of the group's advisors said.

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