Andrew Ross Sorkin is much less diplomatic. I don't know enough yet about how the acquisition was set up to have an opinion. Maybe the Tribune ESOP was doomed anyway and Zell gave them a cheap lottery ticket. I've always admired Zell and thought him one of the few famous investors whose coattails are worth riding (he doesn't manage outside money as far as I know). But I do believe that cleverness in advancing your interests can cross the line into ethics. Generally speaking, a deal has a given level of risk and reward, and if you shift less of the former away from you and more of the latter towards you, you do it at someone else's expense. Those who invest in investors must take this ethical issue into account. Not simply because it's the right thing to do, or for the selfish reason that they themselves may one day be on the receiving end of their investor's dangerous high intelligence/low ethics combination. It's also because, as the Tribune bankruptcy may yet demonstrate, there is some karmic justice in the investing universe. Grossly unfair risk/reward shifting, over the long term, is somehow almost always punished, making it not just bad ethics, but also bad business.

— shifting risk to others  

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