When creditors finally get Tribune out of the bankruptcy into which it was plunged by Sam Zell, it is expected that they will seek spin-offs, particularly on the newspaper side, and the LA Times is expected to be the primary lure for an investor looking for a trophy media property.
The latest speculation on the topic comes from the New York Post, but the idea isn’t exactly brand new. RBR-TVBR reported that the Times, along with the company’s other marquee newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, will be peddled in such a way as to attract a “vanity buyer.”
Few would disagree that the newspaper business has been by far the hardest-hit in the new internet era of media. It’s reflected in a world where the Los Angeles Times was once valued at perhaps $2B all by itself, compared to the current valuation of all eight Tribune newspapers, pegged at $623M.
The company’s stations group is thought to be of more interest to the creditors taking over the company soon – Oaktree in particular is already backing the Townsquare radio group. Tribune’s broadcast properties, which includes television stations and iconic WGN-AM Chicago, is valued just shy of $3B.
The hope of the creditors is that the rich history and iconic status of the two great major city newspapers will add value that might not be readily apparent after a glance at their current balance sheets.