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Koch noncommittal on rumors of media buy

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 4:06 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, March 12, 2013, at 8:42 p.m.

A Koch Industries spokeswoman said Tuesday that she could neither confirm nor deny a report that Charles and David Koch are working on a deal to purchase all or parts of the Tribune Co. media conglomerate.

The website jimromenesko.com, a popular media business news site, reported Tuesday that the Koch brothers, according to L.A. Weekly, are considering making an offer for the Tribune’s newspaper group – which includes the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Baltimore Sun – or the entire company, which includes television stations such as cable powerhouse WGN in Chicago.

The offer reportedly would be in partnership with multimillionaire Doug Manchester, who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009, according to L.A. Weekly.

Melissa Cohlmia, a Koch spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement, “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in today’s news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring.”

Any such negotiations would represent a change from last year, when Charles Koch downplayed his company’s interest in newspapers during an exclusive interview with The Eagle. Dave Robertson, the president of Koch Industries, also downplayed Koch’s interest in media companies during a subsequent interview.

The Koch family is no stranger to newspapers. The brothers’ grandfather Harry was a printer’s apprentice who operated a weekly newspaper in Texas.

Koch Industries, based in Wichita, is one of the largest privately held companies in America.

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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