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Testimony: Tribune Co. settlement talks ‘painful’

WILMINGTON, Del. — Confirmation hearings in Tribune Co.’s bankruptcy case got under way Tuesday with a full day of testimony about the company’s tortured on-again-off-again effort to forge a settlement among its warring creditors.

Investment banker David Kurtz of Lazard Ltd., who spearheaded negotiations on behalf of Chicago-based Tribune Co. for two years, described a “painful and difficult” process paralyzed by the obstructionist behavior among the creditors.

He said efforts to broker a deal among creditors sparring over legal claims related to Tribune Co.’s 2007 leverage buyout were repeatedly undone by the aggressive tactics of hedge funds on all sides of the case who bought the company’s distressed debt hoping to profit from a restructuring. Get the full story »

New Tribune Co. lawyer spat breaks out

A new side-imbroglio has broken out in the Tribune Co. bankruptcy, highlighting the often incestuous world occupied by big-time bankruptcy attorneys.

Let’s see if we can sort it all out … Get the full story »

Tribune hires law firm to study Morgan Stanley suit

Tribune Co. has hired Chicago law firm Novack and Macey to explore the possibility of bringing legal action against Morgan Stanley, the New York investment bank.

The disclosure came in a bankruptcy court filing Friday asking for retroactive permission to hire the firm, which began looking into the matter in late August. Get the full story »

Tribune Co. asks for golden parachutes for top execs

Tribune Co. proposed paying its top 43 executives a severance package of cash and benefits if they are asked by a new board to leave the company after the Chicago-based media conglomerate emerges from bankruptcy.

The company didn’t put a price tag on the package, but said it amounts to 2.5 times salary and bonus for Chief Executive Randy Michaels, and 2.25 times salary and bonus for Chief Operating Officer Gerry Spector. Both would be entitled to 24 months of the company’s group health benefits.

Nine other top executives, including Tony Hunter, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune, and Eddy Hartenstein, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, would get 1.75 times salary and bonus plus 24 months of benefits. A list of 32 others would get 1.5 times salary and 18 months of benefits.

Tribune Co. filed the plan late Thursday as part of a supplement to its plan of reorganization.
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Tribune Co. examiner asks for extension

The independent examiner charged with investigating claims of “fraudulent conveyance” in the Tribune Co. bankruptcy case asked Wednesday for a 15-day extension for filing his report.

That would likely delay a set of confirmation hearings in the case scheduled for Aug. 16 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware.

“The examiner’s request…is not unexpected,” Tribune Co. said in a statement. “Although it may delay our confirmation hearing for a short period of time, we are supportive of the request in the interest of enabling the examiner to do a thorough and complete review.”
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Tribune pursues $14.9M in bonuses for 35 execs

By Michael Oneal
Tribune Co. plans to pay 35 of its top executives $14.9 million in additional 2009 bonuses, a court filing revealed late Monday, despite pointed opposition to the proposal from several key constituents in its 17-month-old Chapter 11 bankruptcy case.

The company describes the bonuses, devised as two plans, as rewards for steering the company through bankruptcy court while generating total operating cash flow of $494 million in 2009.

The payments would supplement $42.1 million in management incentive bonuses the court allowed Tribune Co. to pay in February to approximately 670 managers, including most of the executives included in the most senior group.

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