WASHINGTON – Media giant Tribune Co., saddled with billions in debt since it became a privatel y held company last year, has hired bankruptcy advisers, according to its flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune.
The Chicago-based company owns a coast-to-coast empire with television stations and newspapers in most of the nation’s largest cities. Its holdings include the Los Angeles Times and cable television superstation WGN in Chicago, as well as the Chicago Cubs.
Tribune assumed some $13 billion in debt when real estate mogul Sam Zell engineered an employee-owned transition to private ownership one year ago this month. Hopes were high among employees that the company could be re-engineered to be a news company of the 21st century.
But sharply dropping advertising revenues have put the company in danger of being unable to meet its debt covenants and may force it to seek the shelter of bankruptcy reorganization, said a source close to the company who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Tribune is privately held.
The company has hired investment bank Lazard and law firm Sidley Austin to examine the company’s options, according to an article on the Tribune’s Web site.
Tribune declined to comment for this article but directed inquiries to the Chicago Tribune article, which was posted online Sunday evening.