U.S. Trustee Appoints Examiner To Probe Tribune’s LBO

(Reuters) – A U.S. Trustee has appointed an examiner to investigate whether the 2007 leveraged buyout (LBO) of Tribune Co (TRBCQ.PK) led by real estate developer Sam Zell left the media company insolvent.

The examiner, Kenneth Klee, is an attorney at Los Angeles-based lawfirm Klee, Tuchin, Bogdanoff & Stern LLP. He also teaches bankruptcy law at the University of California at Los Angeles.

In April, Tribune and its creditors agreed to appoint an examiner to determine if Tribune’s management, board of directors, lenders and advisors were liable.

Bondholders have blasted the deal as “virtually no money down LBO” and blamed the deal for Tribune’s bankruptcy and their investment losses.

The junior bondholders, who hold $1.2 billion of debt, have said their best hope of a recovery from the bankruptcy lies in disallowing billions of dollars of senior claims.

They are seeking to prove the senior lenders extended loans to finance the leveraged buyout, knowing it would render the company insolvent.

The senior lenders will receive nearly all of the company’s equity under the proposed reorganization plan, which will wipe out billions of dollars in debt.

The case is In re: Tribune Co et al, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 08-13141. (Reporting by Santosh Nadgir in Bangalore; Edited by Roshni Menon)