Sam Zell sent out a company-wide email last night, and reemphasized, in slightly different words, that there are people interested in Newsday. While speaking about the “disposition front,” he says there have been “specific inquiries” about Newsday. Here’s the entire memo:
Lender Call Recap
As you probably know, Randy, Chandler and I held a call today with our company’s lenders. We were not obligated to hold the call, but since we aren’t reporting first quarter results until May, we wanted to assure our debt holders that we are committed to open and clear communication, even if we don’t always have all the immediate answers. Sound familiar?
In summary, we reiterated that Tribune is operating in a difficult environment, and that revenue trends this year to date are significantly worse than expected. Most notably, the weakness in the economy is impacting our classified advertising. The decline in real estate and employment ads has driven classifieds down to levels well below publishing ad trends as a whole. These results underscore the sense of urgency you’ve heard me refer to so often. Due to this environment, we may not have the optionality we originally anticipated. My plan when we closed the sale of Tribune was to keep all of our assets together, but this may no longer be possible. We’ll know more in the months ahead.
On the disposition front, we continue to work with the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago on the sale of Wrigley Field. But, we are also pursuing an alternative path to put the ballpark in front of private buyers who have been approved by MLB. We’ve also received specific inquiries regarding Newsday.
We also reported to our lenders that, in our first 90 days, we’ve made significant progress in transforming the culture of our company. The talktoSam emails now total well over 3,000 and are overwhelmingly filled with enthusiasm, optimism and an eagerness to drive the company into its rightful place as an industry leader. In fact, more frequently now, I’m getting emails from employees who are taking the initiative, putting their ideas into play, and enlisting their colleagues to change the way we operate. (These are my favorite type of emails to get.) Likewise, our Idea Bank is thriving. It has logged well over 2,000 entries, and this is facilitating the exchange of innovation across the company.
Finally, I covered how we are building a new business model for Tribune – a revenue focused, creative, faster, leaner organization that thrives on interaction between product types and across business units.
Let’s make it happen.