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Push for Local Control of L.A. Times Leans on Oaktree

Billionaire Eli Broad and other Los Angeles leaders might be trying to enlist Oaktree Capital Management Co-Chairman Bruce Karsh, whose company owns nearly a fifth of Tribune Publishing Co. stock, into the fight to regain local control of the Los Angeles Times. Last week, the Business Journal reported that Tribune Publishing Chairman Eddy Hartenstein had solicited – and the rest of the directors subsequently rejected – an offer for the Times and Union-Tribune from Broad. Now, Crain’s Chicago Business is reporting the push to have Karsh act. Broad, Karsh and former Times Publisher Austin Beutner were reportedly on hand last night at the opening of The Broad Museum in downtown L.A. Representatives of Oaktree did not immediately return a request for comment. Earlier this month, following Beutner’s sacking as publisher of the Times, more than 60 Southern California civic leaders, including former Mayors Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa – and Broad – urged Tribune Publishing to institute local leadership at the paper. Tribune Publishing has rebuffed the entreaties, and released a statement yesterday re-affirming its commitment to the Times and newly appointed publisher Tim Ryan, who came from the Baltimore Sun. “We are fully committed to our five-point transformation plan to create value for all shareholders and stakeholders alike, which we launched last year when Tribune Publishing became a publicly traded company,” said the statement from Tribune’s board. “Our California News Group, which includes the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, is a cornerstone of our company’s portfolio and a key component to our success in the future.”

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