Sam Zell to Exit Tribune Co. Three Years After ‘Deal From Hell’ (video)

Chairman doesn't “envision a role” once company he bought for $8.7 billion emerges from bankruptcy

Sam Zell, who engineered the $8.7 billion buyout of the Tribune Company in 2007, is planning to leave the company.

Zell, currently the Tribune Co. chairman, told CNBC's Maria Bartiromo on Monday that he doesn't "envision a role" for himself once the company emerges from bankruptcy protection.

“As soon as we get it out of bankruptcy," Zell said, "I will wish whoever takes it over a lot of good luck, and they should enjoy being in the media industry more than I do.”

But Zell also contends that “the company is in dramatically better shape today” than when he bought it.

Last December, Zell abruptly resigned as the Tribune Co.'s chief executive, installing Randy Michaels as its CEO. “At this point in Tribune’s evolution, no one is better suited to lead the company forward,” Zell said then of his replacement.

Michaels resigned last month in the wake of a New York Times report detailing “frat boy” behavior in the executive suite. He was replaced by a four-member executive council, including Eddy Hartenstein, publisher and CEO of Los Angeles Times.