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Report: L.A. Times Rejected Sale Inquiries

July 29, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Three local billionaires expressed interest separately in buying the Los Angeles Times, and were told the newspaper wasn’t for sale ``at this time,″ the Times reported Saturday.

The three wrote letters to the Tribune Co., which reviewed them at a board meeting July 19, the newspaper said, quoting people who had seen the letters.

Those making inquiries were philanthropist Eli Broad, who is involved in downtown redevelopment, entertainment mogul David Geffen and former supermarket baron Ron Burkle.

The company told each man the paper was not prepared to discuss a sale ``at this time.″

``If our perspective changes, we will contact you,″ Tribune Chairman and CEO Dennis J. Fitzsimmons told them in the letter.

Tribune Co. officials declined to discuss the matter.

``We don’t comment on board business,″ Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman told The Associated Press.

The Chicago-based Tribune Co. bought the Los Angeles Times in 2000. According to the Times, relations between the newspaper and its owner have become increasingly strained amid budget and job cuts and declining revenue.

The Tribune Co. has also come under criticism from the newspaper’s former owners, the Chandler family of Los Angeles, which holds more than 12 percent of Tribune stock.

The family, Tribune Co.’s second-largest shareholder, publicly accused Tribune Co. in June of a series of strategic failures and called for the company to take decisive steps to reverse a decline in its stock price.

``Clearly, it is time for prompt, comprehensive action,″ said William Stinehart Jr., one of three Chandler family members who hold Tribune board seats.

The company should consider putting itself or its newspaper companies up for sale, according to the family, which controlled the Times for more than a century until the 2000 sale.

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