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So Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle at the 11th hour are battling to buy Tribune Co. They’ve upped their offer to $34 a share, or one dollar more than real estate tycoon Sam Zell’s, for the Big Media corporation. According to various news sources, the duo sent a letter to the board of Tribune Co. this evening with the bettered bid. It’s almost identical to Zell‘s, including an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) to fund much of the deal. Tribune had said it wanted to end all this haggling by the end of the first quarter, which is Saturday. But this is a new wrinkle in the negotiations. Just to refresh your memory, it’s a world away from Broad/Burkle’s first bid for Tribune Co. in January: then, you needed an MBA from Harvard just to understand it. But the offer from “Da Boys”, as their advisers call the pairing, was rejected by Tribune Co. The duo are joined in a common goal to bring the Los Angeles Times back under local ownership; now the paper is an even bigger mess. Also included among the Tribune Co.’s assets are a nice chunk of TV stations, the Chicago Cubs, and newspapers including Newsday, the Baltimore Sun, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the Chicago Tribune.

Editor-in-Chief Nikki Finke - tip her here.

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