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Chicago Tribune Company to buy off investors; to be privately held

In a surprise announcement, Chicago Tribune Co. has announced that it will buy back stock from shareholders and return to a privately held company. The deal is being engineered by Chicago real estate billionaire tycoon Sam Zell who will be invest another $250 million and become a member of the board.

It is not clear how Zell will manage the company once he’s in control.

The New York Times reports: “Mr. Zell, 65, the son of refugees who fled Poland on the eve of Hitler’s invasion, is a self-made billionaire who has thrived on buying up distressed businesses. What he plans to do with Tribune is not clear. He has said he would leave current management in place and that his interest was not editorial but economic. Some employees fear that he could continue paring down the company, which has cut staff and costs over the last few years as its newspapers, along with many others, have lost readers and advertisers to the Internet.

Time will tell how this will affect editorial cartoonists who are employed by companies owned by the Tribune Co.

Community Comments

#1 Norm Feuti
@ 3:26 pm

From what I understand, the trouble with the corporatization of newspapers is that their stockholders usually demand unreasonable profit margins, forcing their editors to make tough choices on staff and content.

Hopefully, this new private owner will be happy with realistic profits and the newspaper’s readers and staff will benefit.

#2 Jeff Stanson
@ 9:33 pm

Also in the news is Zell’s stated plan to sell the Cubs after this season. Longtime Cubs fans have high hopes that the new owner or owners will be a baseball fan or fans. Many fans feel Tribune has been content not to put money into the team as long as games have been seeling out and hope that owners who are baseball fans will put money into the team.

At the same time, what of Tribune Media Services? It’s widely specualted that more sell-offs could come. Is it too much to hope that if TMS is sold, or the rights to its comics are sold, that they would end up in the hands of a company that knows how to treat classic comic strips and do more with them?

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