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Tribune Stations May Be on the Block After Stock Buy-Back

31 May, 2006 Response This Week

CHICAGO – Media giant Tribune Co. announced Tuesday that it plans to buy nearly a quarter of its outstanding shares and added that some of its television stations may be sold in an effort to finance the stock buy-back, reports. A statement from the company says the owner of 26 TV stations is looking to sell assets it sees as “nonessential,” including TV stations that are not core to its program-buying strategy.

Sixteen of Tribune’s 26 TV stations are affiliates of the new CW Network, while three other networks recently became MyNetworkTV affiliates. Tribune hopes to raise $500 million from its asset sales, which may also include select real estate, newspapers and other investments.

Tribune’s recent growth has been stagnant. The company contends it is refocusing on its core newspaper and TV station assets, and the stock buy-back and asset sales are part of the company’s strategy to do so.

Tribune says that its assets in the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago markets are not for sale. Additionally, Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis FitzSimmons told TVWeek that the company’s 31-percent stake in the Food Network is “not likely” up for sale either.

The stock repurchase program is slated to happen in three phases and will total up to 75 million shares. Tribune says that the total price of the buy-back should run around $2 billion. The transactions will be financed via debt securities, bank debt and the asset sales.

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