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Tribune Co. might have 6 suitors

Ex-AIG chairman, Gannett may bid

CHICAGO -- Tribune Co., the second-largest US newspaper publisher, may receive offers from at least six bidders for all or part of the company.

Gannett Co. put in a preliminary offer, according to the Chicago Tribune, the company's flagship newspaper. Maurice R. Greenberg, former chairman of American International Group Inc., is also considering a bid, said a person familiar with his plans.

Greenberg and Gannett would add to bids from private equity firms Bain Capital LLC of Boston and Apollo Management LP and a joint offer from California billionaires Ron Burkle and Eli Broad. Chicago-based Tribune, with a market capitalization of $7.8 billion, has also approached News Corp., Hearst Corp., and Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

The interest in Chicago-based Tribune's assets, which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Cubs baseball team, has increased since Tribune indicated this month it would be willing to sell the company in pieces, rather than as a whole. Tribune chief executive Dennis FitzSimons and other directors agreed in September to consider selling the company after pressure from its largest shareholder, the Chandler family.

A Tribune spokesman declined to comment on interest from potential buyers.

Boston's Bain and New York's Apollo offered about $32 a share, giving no premium to the company's stock market value. Bids also came from a group consisting of Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, also of Boston, and Texas Pacific Group. Apollo was joined in its bid by Madison Dearborn Partners LLC and Providence Equity Partners Inc., of Providence.

Greenberg, 81, is also interested in pursuing other newspapers such as The Boston Globe and possibly Dow Jones & Co., The New York Times reported yesterday, citing people briefed on his plans.

A Greenberg spokesman confirmed Greenberg's interest in media companies yesterday but declined to elaborate.

"Mr. Greenberg is exploring several options involving media companies," he said.

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