'I Made a Mistake' Buying Tribune Co.: Zell

Canny investor admits he backed a losing horse
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2009 3:11 PM CDT
Billionaire Sam Zell speaks at the Inland Press Association's annual meeting in Chicago.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Sam Zell is famous for his business acumen. He made a near-psychic call to sell his office-property company for billions just months before the market tanked. But the magnate now tells Bloomberg another deal he made was as boneheaded, in retrospect, as the Equity Office Properties deal was prescient: buying Tribune Co. just before the recession sounded the death knell for the traditional American newspaper.

“The definition if you bought something and it’s now worth a great deal less, you made a mistake,” Zell said of the deal. "I was too optimistic in terms of the newspaper’s ability to preserve its position.” Asked if there were any potential buyers, Zell likened a merger to “asking someone in another business if they want to get vaccinated with a live virus.”