Zell wins Tribune buyout

Billionaire real estate investor Sam Zell has been selected to back the $8.2bn privatisation of newspaper publisher Tribune Company, a transaction which involves the sale of a stake in a Chicago baseball team and an Employee Stock Ownership Plan.

After a contentious bidding process, Chicago investor Sam Zell has been selected as the financial backer of a roughly $8.2 billion (€6.13 billion) take-private transaction of Tribune Company, a major publisher of newspapers and a broadcaster.

Zell, who recently sold his real estate investment trust, Equity Office, to The Blackstone Group in a $36 billion take-private transaction, pursues a range of private investment strategies through his firm, Equity Group Investments.

The Tribune deal, which received competing bids from a number of well heeled private investors, involves a $315 million investment from Zell. The company will be transferred to the ownership of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) with Zell holding a subordinate note and a warrant entitling him to acquire 40 percent of Tribune’s common stock.

As part of the deal, Trubine will sell the Chicago Cubs, a baseball team, as well as a 25 percent stake in broadcast group Comcast SportsNet Chicago.