Sam Zell’s Tribune Company Files For Bankruptcy

zell120808 Sam Zells Tribune Company Files For BankruptcySam Zell’s Tribune Company filed for bankruptcy today in a Delaware court.

Sam Zell said in a memo to Tribune employees that "factors beyond our control have created a perfect storm—a precipitous decline in revenue and a tough economy coupled with a credit crisis that makes it extremely difficult to support our debt."

In the memo, he also wrote:

Most importantly, I want to stress that we will continue to operate our business as usual… This filing should not impact the way you do your jobs on a day-to-day basis. We will continue to operate responsibly in a challenging environment—aggressively managing costs and maximizing revenue opportunities. These are all things we would do whether or not we were restructuring our debt.

DealBook’s Michael J. de la Merced writes, "In a court filing, Tribune said it had nearly $13 billion in debt, compared to $7.6 billion in assets. Most of that debt was taken on when Mr. Zell acquired the company — a deal he struck using mostly borrowed money. All of the now privately held company’s equity is owned by an employee stock-ownership plan."

This morning, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times broke the floodgates open by reporting that Mr. Zell had hired an outside firm Lazard, Ltd. to assess whether the company should seek bankruptcy protection.