Eli Broad joins former politician’s bid for L.A. Times

The Hollywood Reporter | LA Weekly

The billionaire Eli Broad will join former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner in a bid for either the Los Angeles Times or all the Tribune Co.’s newspapers, Paul Bond reports in The Hollywood Reporter.

Broad joined supermarket magnate Ron Burkle to bid on Tribune in 2007 but lost out to a group led by Sam Zell. That disastrous deal led Tribune into bankruptcy, from which it emerged at the end of last year with a plan to sell its newspapers.

“Mr. Broad has always believed in local ownership of the Times and would be interested in joining with others to buy the paper,” Broad’s spokesperson Karen Denne told Bond. Beutner’s group would run the paper as a nonprofit, with Broad on its board and Beutner running the paper, Bond writes.

Current Tribune Co. Chairman Bruce Karsh, a specialist in distressed debt, was once Broad’s assistant.

In Febuary, LA Weekly’s Hillel Aron reported that Beutner wanted to assemble “a group of wealthy Angelenos to make an offer on the L.A. Times and operate it as a nonprofit.” He would also, Aron wrote, turn its focus more fully to Southern California:

Local is everything to Beutner: local ownership, more local-news coverage. He says he would bulk up coverage of L.A. and Southern California but trim back some foreign and national political coverage in locales where a dozen or more news outlets often cover the same story.

If his group bought the Times, he’d consider using more stories from pool reporters and wire services. As an example, he cited a reporter stationed in Afghanistan for three years at great cost to the Times. “Afghanistan is not unimportant,” he says. “But you can’t do everything. You can’t be everywhere in the first person.”

Beutner, a former investment banker, dropped out of the L.A. mayor’s race last May “after months of fundraising struggles, churn among his campaign staff and a recent poll that showed him capturing a dismal 2% of the likely vote,” the Times reported at the time.

Broad told the Times last May he would be willing to “partner with others … maybe foundations or wealthy families” to buy the newspaper. “Sources” tell Bond that Broad and Beutner “would consider purchasing the block of Tribune Co. newspapers — including the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and the Hartford Courant — and then sell off the excess titles.”

Tribune is said to be interested in selling the papers as a group.

The daughter of Patrick Soon-Shiong, one possible co-investor, interned at the L.A. Times, Aron reported.

Last year in Philadelphia a group of civic-minded wealthy people joined in a successful bid to buy its newspapers out of bankruptcy. They spoke at the time of the importance of “patient capital” and installed a popular former editor, but have since demanded cuts and wrestled with the papers’ unions.

Related: Report: Koch brothers interested in buying Tribune papers | Murdoch (again) reportedly interested in L.A. Times | Update: U-T San Diego leadership now says it’s not interested in buying L.A. Times | OC Register Aaron Kushner expresses interest in buying Tribune Co.’s papers (The Wall Street Journal)

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