After letting a restless shareholder push it onto the auction block,
appears to be having second thoughts.
According to a report in
The Wall Street Journal
, directors and executives at the publishing empire are leaning toward rejecting all outside bids for the company and instead restructuring it on their own.
The Chicago-based newspaper and television conglomerate has entertained a number of buyout proposals after its largest shareholder, the Chandler family trust, pressured it into a sale with a campaign of public criticism last summer.
reported Monday that Tribune's "self-help" plan, devised by directors and outside advisers, is expected to involve spinning off the company's broadcast division and borrowing money to pay out a one-time cash dividend. The paper cited "people familiar with the situation."
, citing "sources familiar" with the process, reported that the company's top brass will be outlining an alternative proposal during a two-day board meeting that starts today.
The Long Island tabloid, which is owned by Tribune, said company executives want to keep Tribune intact, if possible, instead of splitting its newspaper and broadcast divisions. They also want to take the company private and diminish the influence of the Chandler family,
said. The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the company is rounding up private equity and debt financing to fund its efforts.
Gary Weitman, a Tribune spokesman, declined to comment on the situation.
The Chandler family trust raised eyebrows last month by announcing a bid to buy the company in a deal valued at $31.70 a share. Previously, when the trust was arguing for a sale, it said a private equity buyer would pay at least $35 a share for the publisher.
The Chandlers' apparent change of heart about the value of Tribune raised questions about the decision to put the company up for sale in the first place. So far, the sale process has been widely viewed as a disappointment. Valuations in the newspaper publishing industry are depressed amid a stale advertising market and the threat posed by the Internet.
Separately, Tribune said Monday that it plans to sell its
Spanish-language newspaper in New York to ImpreMedia. The company will keep its versions of the paper in Los Angeles and Chicago.
"Although Hoy New York made good progress over the last year, we did not see a path to profitability in this market," said Scott C. Smith, Tribune Publishing president, in a statement.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Shares of Tribune recently were down 15 cents, or 0.5%, to $30.34.