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New York (AFP) — U.S. media conglomerate Tribune Co. on Tuesday approved the spinoff of its newspaper division — including the big Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune dailies — for August 4.

The new unit called Tribune Publishing Company will be publicly traded under the symbol TPUB, under a plan approved by the board of directors.

The parent firm, to be renamed Tribune Media Company and which is focusing on broadcasting through its WGN cable channel and local stations, will own 1.5 percent of the publishing unit after the spinoff. The media arm also includes digital assets such as the websites Cars.com and Careerbuilder.com.

The company became privately held after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2012. The reorganization allowed a group of hedge funds and banks based in Los Angeles and New York to take over the media company.

Sam Zell, a Chicago real estate titan, led an $8 billion leveraged buyout of the Tribune Co. in 2007 and the company declared bankruptcy the next year, $13 billion in debt.

In addition to the Chicago and Los Angeles dailies, the newspaper division includes The Baltimore Sun; the Sun Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; the Orlando Sentinel; the Hartford Courant in Connecticut; The Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Tribune Co. discussed the possibility of selling its newspaper operations in a single transaction, but few buyers appeared to be interested in more than a single newspaper.

Some reports said media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, who controls News Corp. and its big dailies along with the media group 21st Century Fox, may be interested in the Los Angeles Times or the entire division.

Last July, Tribune Co. said it would spin off its newspaper division in a separate company “to maximize shareholder value.”

AFP Photo / David Mcnew

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