NEW YORK: Struggling US newspaper publisher Tribune Company, controlled by Chicago billionaire Sam Zell (pictured), is poised to sell one of its most lucrative titles, Newsday, to the News Corporation empire.
The Long Island-based daily also attracted the attention of real estate developer and publisher Mort Zuckerman and the Dolan Cablevision dynasty when it was put under the hammer earlier this year.
The complex agreement with NewsCorp would lead to Tribune selling a majority of the paper for around $580 million (€364m; £292m), with the deal structured in a way designed to reduce taxable capital gains.
Negotiations have apparently involved Zell and NewsCorp ceo Rupert Murdoch in person. The latter expects the acquisition to dovetail with his other New York holdings, including the Post tabloid.
Zell's initial decision not to sell any of Tribune's core assets had to be revisited when the company posted worse-than-expected double-digit newspaper revenue declines last year.
Neither party has commented on the putative agreement and unnamed sources say it may be some time before an announcement is made. Meantime, the managing editor of NewsCorp's recently acquired Wall Street Journal has quit.
Marcus Brauchli, who joined the paper in 1984, was appointed to the top editorial job just under a year ago by the old Dow Jones regime.
Murdoch's controversial $5.2bn acquisition of the Journal at the end of 2007 aroused fears over its future editorial direction. Brauchli was regarded as a safe pair of hands that could help safeguard the newspaper's credibility.
For his part, in a letter to Journal staff, Brauchli said: "The new owners should have a managing editor of their choosing."
He added, carefully: "The new management scrupulously has avoided imposing any political or business viewpoints on our coverage and rigorously has enforced the code of conduct."
A statement from NewsCorp said Brauchli was likely to stay on as a consultant.
Data sourced from Financial Times Online; and New York Times; additional content by WARC staff