Tribune Co. reaches deal with 2 largest creditors

By Michael Oneal
Posted Sep. 28, 2010 at 2:35 p.m.

Tribune Co. has reached a settlement with Angelo, Gordon & Co. and Oaktree Capital Management, two of the largest senior creditors in its bankruptcy case, that will form the basis of a new plan of reorganization for the company.

The settlement came after a two day court-appointed mediation in the case and the company said in a press release that the mediator, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross, approves of the deal.

Although one participant in the talks said the deal is an “important first-step” in reaching a broader agreement that would make resolution of the 22-month-old case, the mediation fell short of its stated goal of forging a “global consensual” agreement that would be easily confirmable by the court.

Conspicuously absent from the pact are several important constituents in the case, including lender JPMorgan Chase, a group of 14 senior creditors representing $750 million in claims, the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and junior note holder Aurelius Capital Management.

Without at least some of those parties on board, it is not clear the new plan would have enough support to be confirmed without significant legal challenge.

Like a plan filed by Oaktree and Angelo Gordon alone last week, the new agreement would allow Tribune Co. to emerge from bankruptcy as a new company owned by its senior lenders, the release said.

The plan would then place all legal claims related the company’s disastrous 2007 leveraged buyout that weren’t settled prior to confirmation into a “litigation trust.”

The junior creditors who have pressed those claims would be the beneficiaries of the trust and their recovery would be based on the outcome of the litigation.

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