Asia Briefing: China’s ‘Most Influential Person’ says he is serious about buying the ‘New York Times’
Environmentalist Chen Guanbiao is seen giving away money to street cleaners during an event he organised in which people representing firms Chen claims pollute the environment attend a parade to be publicly “shamed”, in Nanjing, Jiangsu. He created another stir when he said he wanted to buy the New York Times Co. photograph: reuters
Chinese recycling tycoon Chen Guangbiao has been making headlines in the past few weeks after he announced his plans to buy The New York Times Company, which publishes the newspaper of the same name. He has since rowed back on that plan saying, “The level of difficulty is great”.
Mr Chen, probably China’s best-known philanthropist, does not hold shares in the New York Times, nor does he plan to buy any of its common shares, and he admitted that the New York Times had refused his request for a meeting.
Mr Chen has also caused a sensation in the past week with his business card, which bears his photograph and says he is “China’s Foremost Environmental Preservation Demolition Expert”, “China’s Top Ten Most Honourable Volunteer”, the “Most Influential Person Of China”, “China Moral Leader” and “Most Well-known and Beloved Chinese Role Model”.
The New York Times Company has a market value of €1.7 billion, which is outside Mr Chen’s budget, but he reckons he could stump up the cash.
The Ochs-Sulzberger family, which has owned the Times for more than 100 years, controls the company through a trust of Class B shares with special voting rights.
Last week, Mr Chen wrote in the Global Times that he was not joking about his bid to buy the newspaper and people should take him seriously.
New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr says the paper is not for sale however. And it looks like Mr Chen’s attentions are roving elsewhere now anyway.
He is now looking at the $240 million (€176.57 million) demolition of the old eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Forbes reports, which was damaged by an earthquake in 1989 and was recently replaced by a new suspension bridge.