Crain's Chicago Business said Wrapports LLC has hired investment bank Allen & Co. Inc. of New York to specifically look into the purchase of Tribune Co. assets, as well as hiring a Dallas-based bank for a more general search. A Wrapports spokeswoman confirmed the company's moves, but refused to elaborate, Crain's reported.
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Tribune Co. exited bankruptcy Dec. 31 after spending four years under Chapter 11 protection. The national media company's holdings include six newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, as well as 23 broadcast stations such as WGN in Chicago and KTLA in Los Angeles. Rumors have persisted that the company's current owners might sell off portions of the company after it exited bankruptcy and focus more on its more profitable broadcast holdings.
Wrapports is not the first company expressing interest in Tribune Co. holdings. Others who have said they'd be interested in buying Tribune holdings include News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch -- who owned the Sun Times in the 1980s -- as well as Freedom Communications CEO Aaron Kushner, owner of the Orange County Register based in Santa Ana, Calif., and San Diego Union-Tribune owner Douglas Manchester.
Wrapports LLC, an investment group led by Michael W. Ferro Jr., purchased the Sun-Times and its holdings in 2011. That group includes a number of suburban newspapers such as the Elgin Courier News, Aurora Beacon News, Waukegan News Sun, Naperville Sun, Joliet Herald, Southtown Star, and the Pioneer Press group of weekly newspapers. The company also purchased the alternative weekly Chicago Reader last May.