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Tribune Tower

Investment firm Oaktree Capital Management has set the table to sell its 18 percent stake in Tribune Publishing.

Tribune Publishing filed a shelf registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for Oaktree, its largest shareholder, to offer 4.7 million shares. The terms enable selling "from time to time" through block trades, directly to purchasers or through underwriters, among other means.

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While a shelf registration is not a commitment to sell, it is an indication that the "process is beginning," according to New York tax expert Robert Willens.

"It certainly is signaling an intention to do something," Willens said. "More often than not, it is followed by the disposal of the shares."

A company must be public for at least 12 months before filing a shelf registration. Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, which owns 11 daily newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, spun off from Tribune Media in August 2014.

Los Angeles-based Oaktree manages $100 billion in assets including $26 billion of distressed debt as of Sept. 30. It built its position in the predecessor Tribune Co. as the media company worked through Chapter 11 bankruptcy before emerging at the end of 2012.

Tribune Publishing has lost more than half of its valuation since spinning off from Tribune Media. Its stock, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TPUB, dropped more than 7 percent Monday to close at $8.77, giving the company a market cap of $230 million.

Twitter @RobertChannick

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