No Role for Me at Tribune Going Forward: Sam Zell

The owner of the Tribune Company, Sam Zell, told CNBC Monday that he won’t be involved with the company once it emerges from bankruptcy.

Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune

“I don’t envision having any role going forward,” Zell said. “As soon as the bankruptcy proceedings are done, I’ll turn it over to whoever the creditors decide they want to run it.”

Zell, who is also the chairman of Equity Group Investments, began his career selling the distressed real estate he bought at a profit. In 2007, he acquired the media company , which includes the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, for $8 million; less than a year later, the company filed for bankruptcy protection.

Zell himself has called the Tribune situation the “deal from hell.” Recent articles in the New York Times exposed a dysfunctional work environment at the newspaper company for, among other problems, its "frat house" environment.

Zell maintains that the company performs better now than before he acquired it, though long-time readers of the Chicago Tribune have frequently bemoaned a lesser newspaper in recent years. He said it has had good cash flow for the last 12 months.

“The company is in dramatically better shape than when we bought it in 2007,” he added. “I think it produces a much better product, it does so in a much more efficient fashion. So I think there’s a really great hope for the company going forward. And I think it will outperform the media industry, as it has done this year.”