Chicago billionaire Sam Zell shocked the button-downed newspaper industry in April
when he successfully led a going-private transaction of the Tribune Co., owners of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Cubs and a host of radio and TV stations. Known mostly for his real estate prowess and maverick personality, Zell pulled off the transaction by orchestrating a head-spinning $8.2 billion deal structured around a complex ESOP. The lawyer behind the transaction was Joseph Paolucci, general counsel of Equity Group Investments (EGI), Zell's investment company.
Q. Were you surprised when Sam closed down the firm?
A. It was a total shock. I had absolutely no idea it was happening. I was on paternity leave at the time. I had just adopted two babies from Romania. They closed the firm right before my leave ended. They gave me the bad news and then asked me to join Equity Group Investments as deputy general counsel.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. There are always a lot of deals to work on. We are looking at an energy deal in the Middle East. We also are looking at real estate in Latin America. We also are looking at a rust-belt business.