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It’s Official: Tribune Company Emerges from Bankruptcy

Reuters reporters Ronald Grover and Liana B. Baker had the scoop last Friday about New Year’s Eve being the day LA Times parent company Tribune Co. would finally, officially emerge from a four-year bankruptcy. This morning at 4:42 a.m. PT, LAT reporters Walter Hamilton and Joe Flint added circumspect confirmation in the paper’s own pages:

The company sought Bankruptcy Court protection in December 2008 after an $8.2 billion leveraged buyout by real estate magnate Sam Zell saddled the company with $12.9 billion in total debt just as advertising revenue was collapsing…

Despite the financial travails of the newspaper industry, Tribune remained profitable throughout the bankruptcy. It built cash reserves of more than $2.5 billion as of November 18, according to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing this month.

One of the more exciting scenarios for new LAT ownership was hinted at December 20 by Nieman Lab columnist Ken Doctor. In his countdown of 13 active media moguls, here’s who he had in the number 12 spot:

Consistent rumor in LA places Carlos Slim as one of the potential bidders for the Los Angeles Times, as the post-bankruptcy Tribune Company gets its newspaper auction into gear. Why not? The globe’s richest human, Slim already has shown an interest in newspapers, his usurious depth-of-the-recession deal with the New York Times being one example. Media and telecom are cousins, and América Móvil is his signature company, with almost 40 percent mobile market share in Latin America and the Caribbean. As that company gets increasing pressure from regulators, why not head north (as Murdoch moves west) and exploit more of the California market, which itself is almost 40 percent Latino. Even if Slim paid $300 million for the Times, which is probably a high price, it would amount to a rounding error amid his $68 billion fortune.

Slim previously staked an LA media foothold with Ora TV, based in Glendale. In January, he told Forbes reporter Kerry Dolan that content would not be a core business. Tribune Company’s other major local media holding is of course KTLA, which could figure into an LAT ownership bid or be split off and sold on its own.

Previously on FishbowlLA:
Tribune Co. Set to Receive Critical FCC Waivers

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