Tribune Plans to Spin Off Publishing Business

Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune would be part of standalone company

The Tribune Company plans to spin-off its publishing assets so it can focus on its more lucrative television business, the media company said Wednesday.

The split would mean that the Tribune's newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Baltimore Sun would be reorganized into a stand-alone company called Tribune Publishing Company.

Its 42 local television stations and real estate assets would remain as part of the Tribune Company. The company has struggled in recent years, emerging from bankruptcy in 2012.

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Prior to Wednesday's announcement, the Tribune had been actively trying to sell the Los Angeles Times and other papers, at one point drawing interest from the conservative  billionaire-brothers Charles and David Koch. In February, the company tapped Evercore and J.P. Morgan to run an auction for the newspapers.

Tribune's leadership said that spinning off its publishing business would help it unlock shareholder value and would allow the two companies to remain competitive in a shifting media landscape.

“Moving to separate our publishing and broadcasting assets into two distinct companies will bring single-minded attention to the journalistic standards, advertising partnerships and digital prospects of our iconic newspapers, while also enabling us to take advantage of the operational and strategic opportunities created by the significant scale we are building in broadcasting,” Peter Liguori, Tribune’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. 

Liguori said that each company will boast revenues in excess of $1 billion.

The move mirrors the recent fissure of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., which spun off its more profitable film and television business last month into a standalone public company, 21st Century Fox. Its newspaper and publishing business is continuing under the News Corp. name.

A Tribune split is still months away from happening and is subject to regulatory approval.