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Will Sam Zell Sell The Seats Right Out From Under Reporters?

Looks as though LAT and Chicago Tribune staffers might be forced out of their homes — or at least forced to share their space. Sam Zell‘s staff memo:

Partners,

When we started this adventure together, I made a point of saying we would challenge traditional thinking, that there would be no sacred cows, and that we would do everything possible to maximize the value of our assets.

With those objectives in mind, we are in the process of asking a number of real estate firms to give us their best thinking on how we can generate more value from Tribune Tower in Chicago, and the Times Mirror Square complex in Los Angeles.

We’ll be considering numerous options to maximize the value of these properties. While a near-term transaction is possible, we’ll be focusing on opportunities that allow for some level of ongoing occupancy in both buildings for the mid-term (defined as five years), for farther out (15 years), and beyond.

Most importantly, we are not rushing this process, and I can assure you we will not accept anything but full market value for these assets. As we made clear on our first quarter earnings call, Tribune has sufficient liquidity to satisfy our principal amortization requirements through 2008, due to the proceeds we will realize from the Newsday transaction, and from our plans to create an asset-backed commercial paper program.

Our request for proposals, which is being issued today, is likely to generate media attention and debate about what we should or should not do with the properties. Both Tribune Tower and Times Mirror Square are iconic structures, deeply intertwined with the history of this company. But, they are also both under-utilized, and as employee-owners, it’s in our best interests to maximize the value of all our assets.

We will keep you posted as we solidify our plans, so don’t get distracted by speculation. Let’s keep our eye on the ball.

Sam

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