January 25, 2017 Last Updated 9:51 am

Peter Liguori leaves Tribune Media, led split of company following bankruptcy exit

Peter Kern, who just joined the board, and heads a private equity firm, will take over Tribune Media Company as interim CEO

The chief executive of Tribune Media, the broadcast company split off from The Tribune Company in 2014, will be leaving. Peter Liguori led The Tribune Company since 2013, shortly after it exited bankruptcy. A year later he became CEO of Tribune Media after the spin-off of its print operations. While Tribune Publishing has managed to acquire additional properties, such as the San Diego Union Tribune, the company remains deeply in debt and the subject of takeover rumors.

Tribune Media, meanwhile, has sold off real estate and recently announced the sale of Gracenote for $560 million to Nielsen.

Variety is speculating that Ligouri’s next move may be to Sony Pictures. In December he was made an advisor to the board of directors. Before heading The Tribune Company and then Tribune Media, Liguori served as Chief Operating Officer of Discovery Communications, and before that was at Fox. He also spent time as VP, consumer marketing at HBO. His one screen credit was as associate producer on the film Big Night, directed by Campbell Scott and actor Stanley Tucci (good film!).

With the exit of Ligouri, Peter Kern will take over as interim CEO. Kern is a Managing Partner at InterMedia Partners, a private equity firm, and is also on the board of Expedia. Having the head of a PE firm at the controls of Tribune Media may mean that the company is looking to sell off more assets – though only time will tell.

Here is the announcement from Tribune Media:

CHICAGO, Illinois – January 25, 2017  Tribune Media Company today announced that Peter Liguori, the company’s president and chief executive officer since January 2013, has decided to step down following the company’s 2016 fourth quarter and full-year earnings release, expected to occur during the first week of March.  Mr. Liguori will also resign from the company’s board of directors at that time.  Tribune Media’s board of directors will conduct a search working with Korn Ferry to identify a new CEO.

“Following the successful completion of several financial, strategic and creative initiatives, culminating in the pending sale of Gracenote, Tribune Media is well advanced in its transformation to a more focused broadcast and cable networks company,” said Liguori.  “I believe that now is the ideal time for a new leader to steer today’s Tribune.  As curious and excited as I am about pursuing new opportunities, I am equally grateful for the achievements, commitment and integrity of this company’s management team and its dedicated employees.”

Bruce Karsh, chairman of Tribune Media’s board of directors added, “We greatly appreciate Peter’s leadership in the transformation of Tribune Media over the last four years, including the efforts to monetize non-core assets and simplify the company.  It became clear to Peter and the board that in this last year of his contract it was time to find a new CEO to run the more broadcast-centric company.”

During the last four years, Liguori led the restructuring and transformation of Tribune Media.  In 2013, the company acquired Local TV for $2.7 billion, which added 19 local television stations, bringing the total Tribune Media local television station portfolio to 42.  In 2014, the company spun off its newspaper publishing division to its shareholders.  During this period, Liguori led the company’s strategic investments in WGN America and grew its brand and distribution to nearly 80 million households.

In February 2016, Tribune Media announced a process to review its strategic and financial alternatives, resulting in the sale of certain real estate assets for more than $500 million and the pending sale of the company’s Gracenote metadata business to Nielsen for approximately $560 million.

The board of directors has chosen one of the company’s current directors, Peter M. Kern, to serve as the interim chief executive officer during the search process.  Mr. Kern has more than 25 years of experience as an executive, investor and M&A advisor in the media industry.

Comments are closed.