New York Times 'not for sale,' publisher says

Aug. 8, 2013 at 12:49 AM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The New York Times "is not for sale," its publisher declared, but analysts said the newspaper might succumb to financial pressures like The Washington Post.

"Will our family seek to sell The Times? The answer to that is no. The Times is not for sale, and the trustees of the Ochs-Sulzberger Trust and the rest of the family are united in our commitment to work together with the company's board, senior management and employees to lead The New York Times forward into our global and digital future," Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who is also The New York Times Co. chairman, said in a statement Wednesday after meeting with family members.

Sulzberger and company Vice Chairman Michael Golden said the Times intended to find profits by expanding "investment internationally, in video, in paid products and in brand extensions."

They also cited the strengths of key Times editors.

"We're incredibly proud of our association with this great institution and, on behalf of the trustees and the other members of our family, we plan for that association to continue for many years to come," the men said.

Among the rumored Times Co. admirers is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a new-media billionaire whose media holdings include a news service and Bloomberg Businessweek.

Regarding the rumors, Sulzberger told The Daily Beast last week, "Imagine. People talk. What a shock."

Bloomberg has dismissed the idea he is eyeing the Times Co.

The Times Co. said Saturday it would sell The Boston Globe at a $1.03 billion loss to Boston Red Sox billionaire owner John W. Henry.

Henry bought the Globe, the Worcester (Mass.)Telegram & Gazette and other New England Media Group properties for $70 million cash. The Times bought the Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion in cash and Times stock.

The Times Co. threatened to close the Globe in 2009 if its unions didn't agree to $20 million in cost savings. A month later it announced it reached a deal with the key newsroom union that gave it the concessions it demanded.

Two days after the Times Co. announced the Globe sale, The Washington Post Co. said it would sell its flagship newspaper to billionaire founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million.

The Post sale by the Graham family, which owned it for 80 years, leaves the Times as the nation's last major newspaper run by a family.

The Times was bought by Adolph S. Ochs -- Sulzberger's great-grandfather -- in 1896. A year later Ochs coined the paper's slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print" -- a jab at competitors known for lurid yellow journalism.

When Ochs bought the Times, it was losing money.

The current company is not losing money but has had cash-flow struggles. In January 2009, a few months before it threatened to close the Globe, the heavily indebted company borrowed $250 million from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, a telecommunications magnate and the world's second-richest person after Bill Gates.

The loan's interest rate was 14 percent. The Times Co. has since repaid the loan and interest.

A report in the Post Tuesday said the Post's sale was considered unthinkable until it happened.

"I can see scenarios where it could happen [at the Times]," Poynter Institute media-business analyst Rick Edmonds told the Post.

"The Times has a lot of strengths. But I think there is some pressure there, too," he said, citing the same economic forces that drove the Graham family to sell.

He also cited potential internal pressures, similar to those that brought the family owners of Dow Jones & Co., parent of The Wall Street Journal, to sell to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for $5 billion in 2008.

The Times Co. sold its nine TV stations in 2007, its regional newspaper chain in 2011 and its Web operation last summer.

Once the Times Co. sells the Globe, it will own the Times and the Paris-based International Herald Tribune, which will be re-branded as the International New York Times in October.

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