When Things Fall Apart: The Tribune Co. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

It’s been two years of haggling and legal briefs in the Tribune Chapter 11 bankruptcy leaving the embattled media company with nothing to show for their efforts other than $180 million in legal fees.  So what happened to Tribune’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy?  Many analysts closely watching the Tribune bankruptcy say that the major factor contributing to the company’s diminished hope of emerging from bankruptcy anytime soon is the emergence of a money hungry junior creditor Aurelius Capital Management.  Aurelius is known in the bankruptcy world as a litigious player who is willing to do almost anything to squeeze every last dollar out of companies in bankruptcy.  Aurelius, like other bankruptcy debt investors, swoop in to buy the debt of companies in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and then squeeze  hard to maximize their profits even if their actions will not benefit the company in bankruptcy.  Many bankruptcy judges and trustees have expressed dismay over the emergence of this predatory type debt buyer and have even questioned if their tactics are bad faith efforts that corrupt the bankruptcy process.  Many debtor companies find it very difficult to go through the bankruptcy process with these vulture investors feeding upon them and for Tribune Co. it has not been any easier. A matter of fact, while Tribune has managed to negotiate settlements with two of its major creditors Aurelius is still a stubborn hold out. Aurelius, along with other junior creditors have claimed that the Sam Zell buyout which put the company into bankruptcy was an example of “fraudulent conveyance,” meaning it left the firm insolvent from the start. They’ve also claimed breach of fiduciary duty against some Tribune Co. managers and others.  Aurelius and the other junior creditors are basically arguing for a larger payout than the 23 cents on the dollar the Tribune is offering in their proposed Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan.  Tribune Co. and their creditors are schedule to begin their mediation talks; but many have little hope that it will resolve much.