* Company clears last regulatory hurdle to ending bankruptcy
* Speculation will intensify over future
* Asset sales, new CEO likely
Nov 16 Tribune Co, the owner of the Chicago
Tribune, Los Angeles Times and 23 television stations, said on
Friday it received regulatory approval needed to end its nearly
four-year stay in bankruptcy.
Tribune said it received approval from the Federal
Communications Commission to transfer its broadcast licenses to
the new owners who will take over the company when it emerges
Tribune filed for bankruptcy in 2008, a year after real
estate mogul Sam Zell gained control through a leveraged buyout.
The company plans to transfer ownership to its main
creditors -- Oaktree Capital Management, JPMorgan
Chase & Co and Angelo, Gordon & Co.
"This decision will enable the company to continue moving
forward toward emergence from Chapter 11, a process we expect to
complete over the course of the next several weeks," said a
statement from Eddy Hartenstein, Tribune's chief executive
Many observers expect the new owners to quickly select a
management team to run the company and decide which businesses
Reuters reported in September that Peter Liguori, a former
top executive at News Corp's Fox and Discovery
Communications Inc, has emerged as the leading
candidate for chief executive.
The Los Angeles Times reported last month that News Corp's
Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch was interested in the paper.
News Corp called the report "wholly inaccurate," although the
Times stuck by its story.
"There is likely to be a good deal of media speculation
about Tribune's future in the days ahead," Hartenstein wrote in
an email to Tribune staff on Friday. "Try to ignore it."
In 2007, Zell took control of Tribune through a leveraged
buyout that saddled the company with $13 billion in debt just as
the newspaper industry hit a severe drop in advertising revenue.
The company filed for bankruptcy a year later and became
embroiled in a bruising battle with between the company's
lenders and bondholders.