Zell Out as Tribune CEO
Posted on Dec 2, 2009
After two tumultuous years in the media business, Tribune Co.’s controversial CEO, Chicago-based real estate mogul Sam Zell, is stepping down from his post, but he’s not bowing out of the game altogether—Zell will continue as the media company’s chairman. His vacated seat will be filled by Randy Michaels, Tribune’s newly named CEO. —KA
‘Tower Ticker’ in the Chicago Tribune:
The announcement came a day after a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in Delaware extended until Feb. 28 Tribune Co.’s exclusive right to file a reorganization plan in its Chapter 11 case. That was one month earlier than the company has requested, but thwarted, at least temporarily, a group of senior creditors determined to assume control of the case by requesting the right to file their own plan.
A spokesman for Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, WGN-Ch. 9, WGN-AM 720 and assorted other newspaper, TV and digital assets around the country, said the promotion of Michaels did not require bankruptcy court approval.
Ultimately, Tribune Co.’s creditors will decide if Michaels and the rest of Zell’s team remain at the company. While the precise ownership structure of the post-Chapter 11 company is still being negotiated, a plan to swap Tribune’s $13 billion debt burden for equity will give some combination of creditors ownership of the media conglomerate, erasing Zell’s ownership position. The creditors will then pick their own board of directors and it will choose [...] a management team.