Zell closes on Tribune deal, becomes CEO

[SOURCE: Associated Press]
Real estate magnate Sam Zell took control of newly private Tribune Co. on Thursday and began shaking up the newspaper and TV company the moment the $8.2 billion buyout he led closed, reshuffling the board, naming two top executives and promising more action ahead. Taking on the CEO's role as well as chairman, Zell made clear he won't hesitate to make sweeping changes at the media conglomerate even though he has no previous experience in the industry. He signaled he has no immediate asset sales in mind at the company that owns 23 television stations and nine daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, although the Chicago Cubs baseball team and Wrigley Field are to be auctioned off by July. However, he made clear that other changes are coming. Randy Michaels, who helped him turn around radio company Jacor Communications with the help of significant cost cuts, will head the broadcast and Internet operations, and Gerry Spector, who has been chief operating officer at Zell's Equity Residential Properties, will be Tribune's chief administrative officer. The closing came after Tribune received the final cash installment from the four banks financing the deal -- JP Morgan Chase & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. He plans to add the following executives to the Tribune board: Jeffrey S. Berg, 60, chairman and CEO of International Creative Management Inc. Brian L. Greenspun, 61, chairman and CEO of the Greenspun Corp., and president and editor of the Las Vegas Sun. Tribune said in a release: "The Greenspun family has made a significant investment in Tribune Co.” William C. Pate, 44, chief investment officer of Equity Group Investments LLC. Maggie Wilderotter, 52, chairman and chief executive officer of Citizens Communications. Frank E. Wood, 65, chief executive officer of Secret Communications LLC, a venture capital company in Cincinnati. Wood is a former lawyer who spent 33 years in the radio broadcasting business.

* Zell Becomes Tribune Chairman, CEO; Names Managers
Local TV and Tribune announced late Thursday the two companies have signed a letter of intent to create a third-party broadcast management company, headed by Michaels, to provide shared services to the 23 TV stations of Tribune and the nine stations owned by Local TV. The company will function as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tribune and provide back-office services, administration and a number of other functions to the stations. “Tribune and Local TV expect to realize significant savings in management, technology, and other overhead costs,” said Michaels. “Things like research and development and automation technology are more efficient on a large platform. All of the stations get to share the benefits. We are going to find new ways to operate smarter, cheaper and more efficiently."

* Zell at Press Conference Declares Newspapers 'Ain't Ended'

* New Guard Arrives at Tribune, a Developer Who Speaks His Mind

* Zell closes deal for The Times



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