- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2006

From combined dispatches

LOS ANGELES — Billionaire businessman Eli Broad and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle have teamed up to submit a bid for the Tribune Co., according to sources familiar with the offer.

Details of the offer by the companies controlled by the two businessmen were not disclosed. A person familiar with the offer who was not authorized to discuss it publicly confirmed yesterday that the bid had been submitted.

The bid comes one day after the Chicago company replaced Dean Baquet as editor of the Los Angeles Times because Mr. Baquet refused to make mandated cost cuts at the paper.

Mr. Broad and Mr. Burkle have long said they would be interested in returning the Times to local ownership.

A third billionaire, entertainment mogul David Geffen, is known to be interested in buying the Times.

In addition to the Times and the Chicago Tribune, the company owns Newsday in New York, the Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel and the Hartford Courant.

Mr. Broad, 73, has a net worth of $5.8 billion, according to Forbes. The magazine says Mr. Geffen, 63, has $4.6 billion and Mr. Burkle, 53, has $2.5 billion.

Mr. Burkle has pursued several newspaper purchases this year. His Yucaipa Cos. teamed with the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America to bid for Knight Ridder. McClatchy Co. bought Knight Ridder for $4.5 billion and put 12 of the papers up for sale. Yucaipa again bid unsuccessfully for those papers, which included the Philadelphia Inquirer and San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News.

Tribune tried selling the company after being pressured by discontented shareholders and experiencing plunging circulation and a decrease in advertising revenue at its 11 newspapers.

When bids for the mammoth media company came in far lower than expected, Tribune told prospective bidders that individual pieces were available for sale.

Mr. Broad, Mr. Burkle and Mr. Geffen were expected to submit bids for the Los Angeles Times. The joint bid for the entire company came as a surprise.

Yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer replaced its editor as the private group that bought the paper from McClatchy in June said falling circulation and ad revenue would mean deep newsroom cuts. Baltimore Sun editor Bill Marrimow is set to take over.

Tribune’s holdings include 11 daily newspapers, 25 TV stations, the Chicago Cubs and Internet ventures, as well as sizable stakes in the Food Network and the online classified advertising venture CareerBuilder.

Also yesterday, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, which owns 7.6 percent of shares in the New York Times Co. and is unhappy with a long slide in its share price, sought steps that would reduce the Sulzberger family’s control.

The proposal calls on the Times’ board to make several changes, including putting its dual-class share structure — which cements control of the company by the Sulzbergers — to a shareholder vote. It also calls for the roles of chairman and publisher of the New York Times to be separated. Both jobs are held by Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

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