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FCC news lifts Tribune stock, buyout hopes

Chicago billionaire Sam Zell has offered $8.2 billion for Tribune Co. Chicago billionaire Sam Zell has offered $8.2 billion for Tribune Co.
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Bloomberg News / November 15, 2007

NEW YORK - Tribune Co., the US newspaper publisher being taken private, rose in New York Stock Exchange trading on optimism billionaire financier Sam Zell will get regulatory approval to complete the $8.2 billion buyout.

Tribune shares rose 72 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $29.25 yesterday. Holders will get $34 a share if the buyout is completed by Jan. 1, and an additional 8 percent on an annualized basis if it closes later.

A proposal Tuesday by Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin to ease a ban on owning newspapers and TV stations in the same market would help Tribune close the deal. Tribune needs FCC approval to keep ownership of newspapers and TV stations in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Hartford, and South Florida. The company currently gets around the ban with waivers from the agency.

"Even if Tribune has to sell some television stations, that won't cause Zell to scuttle this deal," said John Morton, a newspaper industry analyst in Silver Spring, Md. "Management probably wants to keep everything as is, but that might not be possible."

Martin's proposal applies only to the 20 largest US markets. If approved, Tribune would probably have to sell the two TV stations it owns in Hartford if it chooses to keep the Hartford Courant newspaper, the commissioner said.

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