Lenders, Not Zell, May Run Tribune Co.

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2009 1:09 PM CDT
An empty Chicago Sun Times newspaper box sits under rival Chicago Tribune's box in downtown Chicago.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The bankrupt Tribune Company could emerge from protection with its top creditors—and not chairman Sam Zell—in charge, the Chicago Tribune reports. Zell exerts control based on $90 million he spent to secure the option of buying 40% of the company for $500 million, and a $250 million loan. Those numbers pale in comparison to the $8.6 billion Tribune owes lenders with first dibs on assets.

Those creditors include JPMorgan and Citigroup; in all, the company owes $13 billion. “It completely depends on whether the new owners see value in keeping Zell,” an expert said of expected restructuring. “They have to decide: Is the person at the helm when the company went into the storm the most able person to steer it out?” Zell made an $8.2 billion deal in 2007 to take the company private.