Bullish Zell Seals Deal For Tribune Company

03/28/2008 02:45 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

For the second time in eight years, control of the Los Angeles Times changed hands Thursday, passing from a staid Chicago conglomerate to a private company headed by an unpredictable and colorful billionaire, in a debt-heavy deal that creates tremendous opportunities and risks for one of America's top newspapers.

New Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Zell took the reins of Tribune Co. and promised a broad shake-up that would decentralize power to The Times and other local business units, which include KTLA-TV Channel 5, the Chicago Tribune and nearly 30 other newspapers and television stations. Employees and civic leaders in L.A. greeted completion of the $8.2-billion transaction and the promise of local control with cautious optimism. Zell's verve and professed confidence in the news business charmed them, even as they worried that the company's onerous financial obligations might force staff cuts that would diminish The Times.

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