Sam Zell has left the building … almost.
“As soon as the bankruptcy proceedings are done,” Zell said to CNBC Monday, “I’ll turn it over to whoever the creditors decide they want to run it.”
Without a trace of irony, the real estate billionaire and current chair of Tribune Company also said that he didn’t “envision having any role going forward.”
He’s not the only one – most of the creditors, big and small in the troubled media company’s 23 month long Chapter 11 case are already piecing together a future for Tribune without Zell … unless they drag him into court personally.
Tribune, owners of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media properties, has been in Chapter 11 since December 2008. That was less than year after Zell took the company private in late 2007 in an $8.2 billion buyout that was cited for “dishonesty” by independent examiner earlier this summer.
As various plans to reorganization Tribune have been submitted to the bankruptcy court by the company and various creditors, a number of parties, like the Committee of Unsecured Creditors asked the court for the right to go after Zell for his role in the buyout.
Having pretty much stepped back from significant involvement in running the company in recent months, Zell has been rumored to being replaced by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and others.
Of course, with the twists, turns and factions in the Tribune saga, Zell could end up in charge for months more if a deal to reboot the company can’t be found in or out of court.