Tribune Publishing said Monday it is not “engaged in discussions or a process” to sell itself, but did not deny the potential for a future deal as rumors build over a possible sale of the Los Angeles Times and its sister papers.
Tribune, the Chicago owner of the Los Angeles Times, said in a staff-wide memo filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it wanted to respond to rumors sparked on Friday by Rupert Murdoch. The media mogul had tweeted he had a “strong word” that a Wall Street firm would buy Tribune with the Times going to philanthropist Eli Broad and a local group.
Broad on Friday declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
That Wall Street firm could be Apollo Global Management of New York, according to media analyst Ken Doctor. Doctor said Apollo is likely doing its due diligence on setting an offer price before approaching Tribune.
“If it were to name a price, that would definitely add more pressure,” said Doctor.
So far, Tribune has been unresponsive, he added. But if Apollo brings an offer that would maximize value for shareholders, Tribune, as a public company, would probably need to at least discuss the proposal.
Oaktree Capital, which owns 18 percent of Tribune Publishing, could also pressure Tribune to consider a sale, along with the guidance of Wall Street analysts.
An Apollo spokesman said the company declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that a source close to Apollo told the newspaper it wasn’t involved.
The private equity firm had been in talks last spring to acquire Digital First Media, owner of more than 135 publications including the Los Angeles News Group, but the deal fell apart.
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