Tribune Media will explore sale of businesses

Tribune Media, which owns the broadcast and digital assets of the former Tribune Company, announced on Monday it's considering "strategic and financial alternatives" — investor-speak for selling off parts of the company piecemeal.

The strategic and financial alternatives under consideration include, but are not limited to, the sale or separation of select lines of business or assets, strategic partnerships, programming alliances and return of capital initiatives. The Board of Directors and the Company have retained Moelis & Co. and Guggenheim Securities as financial advisors to assist in this process.

The announcement came during Tribune Media's fourth quarter earnings report, where the company disclosed that it lost $320 million in 2015. But Tribune Media's revenue will likely be buoyed by television advertising in 2016, a reliable standby for broadcast stations during election years.

Tribune Media is the most recent incarnation of Tribune Company, which spun off its newspapers in 2014 to a separate company, Tribune Publishing. The spinoff was part of a broader industry trend toward segregation of newspaper and broadcast assets, as companies sought to distance their more lucrative TV operations from their flagging print ones.

Tribune Media owns or operates more than 42 local television stations that reach more than 50 million households, according to its corporate website. The company also owns WGN America, a television channel that broadcasts original programming and syndicated shows.

The sale announcement comes even as Tribune Media is making investments in digital operations. Late last year, the company announced a $25 million investment into Dose Media, the Chicago-based company behind the viral factories OMG Facts and Dose.

Since it spun off its newspapers in the summer of 2014, the value of Tribune Media's stock has fallen. In August, the stock reached a two-year zenith of $75.57 per share before steadily declining to its current value of $32.95. In a statement accompanying the announcement, Tribune Media CEO Peter Liguori said Wall Street currently undervalues the company.

Tribune's assets are valuable, powerful and performing well, as reflected in our full-year 2015 operating results," said Peter Liguori. "However, it's our belief that our current stock price does not reflect the full value of these assets. With the help of outside advisors, we have decided to initiate a process to explore every possible strategic and financial option with one clear goal: to unlock the value of our stock.

Meanwhile, the company is exploring the sale of the storied Tribune Tower building in Chicago.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.


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