Tribune Files For Ch. 11 Bankruptcy Protection; Cubs Not Included In Filing — Tribune has filed for Chapter 11 protection this morning, in bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware. This comes after the news yesterday that the debt-laden newspaper company and owner of LA Times and Chicago Tribune had hired inv*stm*nt bank Lazard and the law firm Sidley Austin to try and help in this process. From the company release about the filing: Total Debt: $12,972,541,148.00. The company will continue to operate its media businesses during the restructuring, including publishing its newspapers and running its television stations and interactive properties without interruption, and has sufficient cash to do so, it said. The Chicago Cubs franchise, including Wrigley Field, is not included in the Ch 11 filing. Efforts to “monetize the Cubs and its related assets will continue,” the company said.
Facebook Still Valued At $15 Billion? — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sits down with TechCrunch and reveals that the social networking giant is looking for more funding in the $15 billion valuation range, a price that was set when Microsoft purchased a 1.6% stake in the company for $240 million in the Fall of 2007. “We’re not actively going around trying to raise money from a lot of different people. It’s more just a follow on to that (previous round),” Zuckerberg said. However, the Silicon Alley Insider notes that Facebook had to recently cancel an employee stock sale program because it couldn’t find buyers for their shares at a $4 billion valuation, which makes CFO Gideon Yu’s mission to keep the $15 billion round open “ambitious if not downright quixotic”, says SAI’s Nicholas Carlson. That said, preferred shares like the ones Microsoft got are certainly on offer here, which means these investors would their money back first in the event of any sale.
Bain Close To Buying Reed Business; Parent May Keep a Stake — The sale process of Reed Business is in its final stages, as one of the two bidders left in the fray, Texas Pacific Group/DLJ combo, has dropped out of the bid, according to reports. This leaves Bain Capital as the only bidder and with a shot to buy it following due diligence. Sir Crispin Davis, the outgoing CEO of Reed Elsevier (NYSE: RUK), has invited the Apollo and Zelnick Media combo to bid again, even though it pulled out of the auction last month, and our sources say privately Strauss Zelnick still wants it. A decision likely will be reached by the end of this month, sources say. The sale price is now around $1 billion, down drastically from the starting asking price of around $2 billion when the process started in February. For Bain, the final thorn is that Reed Elsevier is unhappy with some of the complicated earnout conditions of its bid, a move that would effectively tie key executives to RBI for a number of years, says the Independent. RBI global CEO Gerard van de Aast left last month, leading to more speculation that the sale process hasn’t been the smoothest.
NYTCo Wants To Raise Up To $225 Million From Mortgage Or Sale-Lease Of Times HQ — Last month, The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) board cut the Sulzberger family take-home pay—and increased the flow of money to the company—by cutting dividends. This week, according to the NYT, it’s planning to mortgage or even work a sales-lease on the family “home”: up to $225 million on the 58 percent of the Times Tower owned by the company. CFO Jim Follo told the paper the company has hired Cushman & Wakefield to get the financing through either a mortgage—the NYTCo share of the mid-Manhattan tower is not mortgaged now—or possibly a sale that would include leasing back the space. Developer Forest City Ratner owns the rest of the building.
FOXSports.com Tackles SEO Video Search — FOXSports.com on MSN has tapped EveryZing’s technology to give sports fans the ability to search for specific keywords in video clips online. The Cambridge, Mass. video search company makes speech recordings searchable through its speech-to-text recognition software ezSEO that wraps audio from videos in metadata that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft search engines can index.
ZenithOptimedia Cuts ‘08 Online Forecast To 21.2 Percent Growth; Total Ad Spend Slipping 0.2 Percent –The recession’s squeeze has pushed ZenithOptimedia’s bullish outlook for online ad spending downward a bit, as the Publicis Groupe media shop is predicting global online ad revenues to rise 21.2 percent this year and about 18 percent in 2009. The company will present its forecast on a panel at the UBS Global Media and Communications (PDF) conference in New York this morning, on a panel with Interpublic Group’s Magna and WPP’s GroupM.