Happy Anniversary — Tribune Creditors Gear Up for Chap 11 Vote

Media giant creditors heading towards voting on plans to exit from two-year bankruptcy court

 

Two more days.

That’s what Judge Kevin Carey told creditors Monday they had to work out the final details and legal language of their reorganization plans and disclosure statements for Tribune. If all that’s done by Dec. 8 to the Delaware judge’s satisfaction then Carey will issue a formal order to send out the plans for vote to the company’s creditors.

Dec. 8th actually marks the second anniversary of the media giant’s descent into Chapter 11. That came less than year after embattled chairman Sam Zell took Tribune, owners of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media properties, private in late 2007 in an $8.2 billion buyout that was cited for “dishonesty” by independent examiner earlier this summer.

The four plans, which will be put on CD-ROM to fit all the pages and pages in them, will be mailed on Dec. 22 with creditors having until Jan. 28 to actually cast their votes. Under the process in place, the four plans will be ranked from one to four.

Carey was adamant that March 7, 2011 will see the beginning of the confirmation hearings, which will begin five days of argument on the merits of the submitted plans and disclosure statements. At the end of that hearing, if all goes ahead, the judge will confirm a plan for Tribune to exit from Chapter 11. That final plan, which won’t necessarily be the one with the most creditor votes, could be one of the submitted reorganizations or an amalgamation of two or more.

Of course, the Tribune case being what it is, a lot could happen between now and then or even now and Weds.

Already, creditor Aurelius Capital Management, who submitted one of the four reorg plans, are aiming to widen discovery into company practices. Tribune itself announced Monday an investigation into emails that former CEO Randy Michaels deleted from his laptop. Other company officials, past and present, including Zell, could see their computers, cell phones and other communication devices examined as well.

Michaels resigned from the company in October after a storm of controversy over his leadership style and executive team. A number of creditors, including the large Unsecured Creditors’ Committee, have already taken legal action or have sought the right via a trustee to take legal action against Zell and other company officers involved in the 2007 buyout.