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California and the West

Geffen's offer for The Times: $2 billion

December 14, 2006|James Rainey | Times Staff Writer

Entertainment mogul David Geffen has made a $2-billion all-cash offer for the Los Angeles Times, but the newspaper's corporate owner has declined to accept or reject the bid as it continues to seek offers for the entire company, a source said.

Geffen made the formal offer last month to Tribune Co. but was told by representatives of the Chicago-based media conglomerate that they would not consider it until they had fielded offers for all of Tribune, according to a source familiar with the interaction who requested anonymity because the matter is confidential.

Several private equity firms, newspaper giant Gannett Co. and an alliance of Los Angeles billionaires, Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, have expressed preliminary interest in owning Tribune.

But none of those parties have come forward with a formal offer, forcing Tribune to extend an auction that was to end this month into the new year.

Several observers said the paucity of interest in Tribune had increased the chance that the company would be forced to consider selling individual assets, which include the Los Angeles newspaper, KTLA-TV Channel 5, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Cubs and 22 other television stations.

Members of California's Chandler family prompted the auction this summer when they complained that the value of the company, in which they hold 20% of the stock, had been depressed by poor management.

The Chandlers are now trying to line up other investors for a joint bid on Tribune, according to an investment advisor familiar with the auction.

Geffen has told many friends and associates for more than a year that he would like to own the Los Angeles newspaper and improve the paper as a service to Los Angeles.

The 63-year-old tycoon has also said that he has enough liquid assets to buy the paper alone and pay cash.

His net worth is estimated at $4.6 billion.

Representatives of Broad and Burkle have argued that it would be better for the community if The Times went to a broader partnership, so that no single individual had too great an influence over the paper.

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james.rainey@latimes.com

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