The Tribune Co. will emerge from bankruptcy Monday as a new year dawns, ending a grueling four-year stretch in Chapter 11 protection that ranks as one of the longest in U.S. history.
“Tribune emerges from the bankruptcy process as a multi-media company with a great mix of profitable assets, strong brands in major markets and a much-improved capital structure,” Eddy Hartenstein, Tribune’s current chief executive officer, said in a statement.
The company's prize asset is the 23 television stations it owns. Its publishing assets include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. It is expected to try to sell its newspapers after leaving Chapter 11. They are valued at $623 million, the Los Angeles Times reports citing bankruptcy court filings.
The company said it closed on a new $1.1 billion term loan and a $300 million revolving credit facility as part of its exit from bankruptcy. The credit line will be used to fund operations, while the Times reports that $3 billion will be taken out of the company to pay creditors.
Former News Corp. executive Peter Liguori was named a member of the new board of directors and is expected to be named chief executive officer of the new company.
In addition to Liguori and Hartenstein, the company's new board includes Bruce Karsh and Ken Liang of the investment firm Oaktree Capital Management, former Walt Disney Company executive Peter Murphy, former Yahoo! head of global media Ross Levinsohn and entertainment attorney Craig A. Jacobson.
Of these names, Levinsohn's is perhaps the most widely known. He left Yahoo! last summer after being passed over for the CEO post in favor of Marissa Mayer.
"Very excited to be part of the new Tribune Company," Levinsohn tweeted on Monday. "Amazing brands and people!"
Tribune's long period in bankruptcy kicked off after former CEO and real estate mogul Sam Zell purchased the company through a leveraged buyout. The $12.9 billion in debt Zell racked up to snag the media giant became unsustainable after advertising and subscription revenue dropped, plunging the company into Chapter 11 protection.
The company’s plan of reorganization was cleared by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware in July, and the Federal Communications Commission granted the company additional approvals in November.