Tribune Co has won court approval to emerge from bankruptcy, more than 3-1/2 years after seeking Chapter 11 protection following a leveraged buyout that saddled the publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times with too much debt.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday overruled objections to the plan by a variety of creditors. He said he would confirm Tribune's fourth amended reorganization plan once some revisions were made.
The reorganization will turn over ownership of Tribune to a group of lenders led by JPMorgan Chase & Co, the hedge fund Oaktree Capital Management LP, and Angelo, Gordon & Co, which invests in distressed companies. They will appoint Tribune's seven-member board.
Carey had rejected an earlier version of Tribune's bankruptcy plan last October.
In an opinion dated Friday, he characterized Tribune's path to emergence as having been an "arduous journey."
Tribune had been taken private in an $8.2 billion leveraged buyout in 2007 by the real estate investor Sam Zell. It filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors on December 8, 2008.
The company still owns 23 television stations, including the superstation WGN in its hometown of Chicago.
Approval of the bankruptcy plan clears the way for Tribune to seek formal Federal Communications Commission approval to transfer its broadcast licenses to new owners. Tribune's lawyers have said the process can take several months.
The case is In re: Tribune Co et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141.
(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel)