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Rupert Murdoch: Tribune selling newspaper group

Rupert Murdoch, not often an outsider when it comes to knowledge of media deals, told the world Friday that he has “strong word” that Tribune Publishing’s newspaper group is going to be acquired and that it will split off the Los Angeles Times in the process.

Media baron Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp., which publishes the Wall Street Journal, tweeted that the newspaper group will go to a “big Wall Street firm.” The Times, one of the nation’s largest and most prestigious newspapers, will be sold to a group of local investors that includes businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad, he said. Murdoch offered no other details, or in this case, tips, such as identity of the expected buyer of the newspaper group, which includes the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Hartford Courant.

There was no immediate comment from Tribune on the report. But Tribune has been making moves lately that are consistent with trying to maximize value of an asset before a sale. Tribune said recently that its workforce will shrink by 7% following a buyout of employees. Many of them were at the Times, where there was an exodus of some of the paper’s top editorial staff.

Plus, there has been plenty of friction between the Times and Tribune. In September, Tribune fired the publisher of the Times, Austin Beutner. That same month, the Financial Times reported that Broad was rebuffed in an attempt to buy the Times. Broad, co-founder of real estate developer KB Homes, is a prominent art collector who, among other things, just opened an expansive art museum named after himself in downtown Los Angeles. He has also been active in supporting public education and other endeavors.