Bonds News

Tribune Co. senior bank loans a good bet-Barron's

NEW YORK, April 13 (Reuters) - Tribune Co is struggling to keep up worth $12.8 billion of debt since going private last year, yet the media company’s senior bank loans may be a good bet for big institutional investors, Barron’s said in its April 14 issue.

Chicago-based Tribune, which has almost $2 billion of debt coming due over the next two years, could pay down its obligations by selling off a number of assets: the Chicago Cubs baseball team and its Wrigley Field home; New York-area newspaper Newsday; and a 31 percent stake in the Food Network.

Tribune needs the cash. Revenue from Tribune core newspaper business fell 9 percent last year and so far the outlook for 2008 is worse.

Barron’s suggests investors look at $1.4 billion in “tranche X” bank loans, which fetch 89 cents on the dollar, since these loans get repaid first. After that, there are $7.6 billion of “tranche B” loans trading for only 68 percent of face value.

Tribune bonds, which are not backed by assets, trade much lower. For example, $330 million of 5.25 percent notes due in 2015 fetch just 37 cents on the dollar.

Barron’s noted the tranche X loans would plunge if the company goes into bankruptcy. Tribune chief Sam Zell is expected to lay out his plans for the company, including asset sales, during a Thursday conference call. (Reporting by Joseph A. Giannone, editing by Maureen Bavdek)