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Tribune Lenders Seek Docs from Centerbridge

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Some of Tribune Co’s lenders are seeking documents from bondholder Centerbridge Partners LP relating to the media group’s stock purchases and 2007 leveraged buyout, according to court filings.

A group of credit agreement lenders, including Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and GoldenTree Asset Management LLP, has asked the court to approve a so-called Rule 2004 discovery, according to a motion filed in the U.S. bankruptcy court in Delaware on Friday.

Rule 2004 allows a party in a bankruptcy proceeding to compel discovery or other examination against another party.

The lenders, which also include hedge funds and other investment firms, are asking for authorization to conduct discovery of Centerbridge Partners, Centerbridge Credit Advisors LLC and their affiliates, saying the bondholder’s opposition to Tribune’s buyout is an “about-face.”

Tribune went private in 2007 in an $8.2 billion deal led by real estate magnate Sam Zell, which resulted in the company having $13 billion in debt.

Centerbridge did not “cry foul” when the Zell proposal was announced, the lenders said.

“Given Centerbridge’s about-face contention that the transactions were fraudulent, it is appropriate that Centerbridge disclose how it formed its contemporaneous, but now apparently disowned (opinions),” the lenders said in court documents.

A Centerbridge representative was not immediately available to comment.

Centerbridge is Tribune’s largest public debtholder, with about 37 percent, or about $475 million, of senior notes, according to court documents.

A hearing on this matter is scheduled for April 13.

Tribune filed for Chapter 11 protection from creditors in December 2008. Like many rivals, it struggled with falling advertising sales, tight credit and a weakened economy.

The case is In re: Tribune Co, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141. (Reporting by Chelsea Emery; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)