Murdoch tweets that LA Times about to be bought

Fired L.A. Times publisher hits back at Tribune
Fired L.A. Times publisher hits back at Tribune

Newspaper owner and noted Twitter user Rupert Murdoch is hearing that the Los Angeles Times newspaper is about to change hands.

On Friday afternoon he tweeted about "strong word" that Tribune Publishing is going "to be bought by big Wall St firm."

The L.A. Times will "go to philanthropist Eli Broad and local group," Murdoch added.

There was no immediate confirmation of Murdoch's tweet. A Tribune spokesman declined to comment.

But Murdoch's "strong word" matches industry speculation about a pending transaction involving the Tribune and is sure to trigger even more speculation about it.

Murdoch was said to be interested in buying the Los Angeles Times two years ago. But apparently he didn't try again this year. "No bid. No interest," Murdoch told a Twitter user who asked if the media mogul had lost out to Broad.

Murdoch is far from the only deep-pocketed businessman who has eyeballed the paper over the years.

Related: LA Times buyout offer triggers massive exodus

At the end of the summer Broad, the billionaire philanthropist Murdoch mentioned in his tweet, inquired about the Times and its sister paper the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Tribune board rebuffed Broad back then. The company has repeatedly objected to business proposals that would break up its chain of papers — from The Baltimore Sun on the East Coast to the The Chicago Tribune to The Times out West.

Times publisher Austin Beutner, who is supportive of a breakup and a return to local ownership for the newspaper, was subsequently fired by Tribune CEO Jack Griffin. Beutner is now a publisher in waiting. Broad is widely believed to be preparing another offer for the Times, in concert with a number of other civic leaders in southern California.

Related: Fired LA Times publisher urges local ownership

Beutner told CNN last month, "I'm not involved directly in any talks," but he didn't deny knowledge of their existence.

One scenario -- which Murdoch suggested on Friday -- would split Tribune into two pieces, with Broad and company taking the California papers and another owner taking the midwest and East Coast papers.

Tribune stock surged earlier this week. The stock purchases could have been related to a painful round of corporate cost-cutting, but there is also speculation in the Times newsroom that it is related to an imminent sale.

According to Los Angeles Business Journal reporter Daina Beth Solomon, Broad also declined to comment after Murdoch tweeted about the potential transaction.

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