Lenders, Not Zell, May Run Tribune Co.

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2009 1:09 PM CDT
Lenders, Not Zell, May Run Tribune Co.
An empty Chicago Sun Times newspaper box sits under rival Chicago Tribune's box in downtown Chicago.   (AP Photo)

The bankrupt Tribune Company could emerge from protection with its top creditors—and not chairman Sam Zell—in charge, the Chicago Tribune reports. Zell exerts control based on $90 million he spent to secure the option of buying 40% of the company for $500 million, and a $250 million loan. Those numbers pale in comparison to the $8.6 billion Tribune owes lenders with first dibs on assets.

Those creditors include JPMorgan and Citigroup; in all, the company owes $13 billion. “It completely depends on whether the new owners see value in keeping Zell,” an expert said of expected restructuring. “They have to decide: Is the person at the helm when the company went into the storm the most able person to steer it out?” Zell made an $8.2 billion deal in 2007 to take the company private. (More Tribune Company stories.)

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