Tribune newspapers: We're not in talks to sell the company

Tribune Newspapers responds to rumors
Tribune Newspapers responds to rumors

Tribune Publishing on Monday refuted rumors that the company has put itself up for sale.

On Friday, Rupert Murdoch, co-chairman of Wall Street Journal publisher News Corp, said he had "strong word" that the newspaper group will be bought by a Wall Street firm, while the Los Angeles Times will be split off and purchased by local investors including philanthropist Eli Broad.

Murdoch, who is also co-chairman of 21st Century Fox, the entertainment and broadcast group, made his comments on Twitter.

Tribune sent an email to employees countering Murdoch's claim: "Over the Thanksgiving Weekend a rumor was reported in social media and the press regarding a potential purchase of Tribune Publishing Company. While our policy is not to comment on rumors, given the source of this speculation and the fact that it has received considerable public attention, the Company believes a statement to employees is warranted."

"As our Board of Directors noted earlier this fall and as we articulated in our November earnings call, Tribune Publishing remains committed to its strategy and transformation plan and is not engaged in discussions or a process to sell the Company. As we finish the important fourth quarter, we appreciate the continued hard work and commitment of our employees."

In September Tribune's board said the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune were "a cornerstone of our company's portfolio and a key component to our success in the future."

Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez | AFP | Getty Images

Murdoch did not say on his verified Twitter account which firm would acquire the newspaper group or the timing of any deal. Murdoch tweeted that he did not bid and had no interest.

A Los Angeles Times representative referred questions to a Tribune spokesman, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Broad, who has previously expressed an interest in the Los Angeles Times, declined to comment.

Tribune in September reduced its financial guidance for the year, which it attributed to challenges in Southern California. It replaced the Los Angeles Times publisher around the same time.

Other newspapers published by Tribune include the Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant, SunSentinel, and Orlando Sentinel.

Tribune shares closed at $9.29 on Friday, down nearly 25 percent from $12.24 on Aug. 31.

CNBC contributed to this report.