WSJ: Tribune Co. Preps for Bankruptcy

NEW YORK, Dec 7 (Reuters) – Publisher and broadcaster Tribune Co. is preparing for a possible bankruptcy-protection filing as soon as this week, The Wall Street Journal reported on its website on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Tribune Co., whose newspapers include the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, in recent days has hired Lazard Ltd. as its financial adviser and a legal counsel for a possible trip through bankruptcy court, the paper reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Messages left with Tribune and Lazard were not immediately returned.

The Journal, which cited a Tribune spokesman saying the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculation. It said a Lazard spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The paper said Tribune has been on wobbly footing since last December, when real-estate mogul Sam Zell led a debt-backed deal to take the company private.

Tribune so far has stayed ahead of its $12 billion in borrowings with the help of asset sales, but dwindling profits are now tightening the noose, it said. The company’s cash flow may not be enough to cover nearly $1 billion in interest payments this year, and Tribune owes a $512 million debt payment in June, the paper said. (Reporting by Megan Davies; Editing by Leslie Adler)