New York Times to sell the ‘Boston Globe’ to Red Sox owner

Newspaper sold for $70 million, a small fraction of what the Times paid for it 20 years ago

Red Sox owner John W Henry got the Boston Globe for less than a tenth of what the New York Times paid when it bought the newspaper for $1.1 billion in 1993. Photograph: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Red Sox owner John W Henry got the Boston Globe for less than a tenth of what the New York Times paid when it bought the newspaper for $1.1 billion in 1993. Photograph: Darren McCollester/Getty Images

 

The New York Times Co has agreed to sell the Boston Globe to the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox baseball team for $70 million in cash, a small fraction of what the Times paid for the newspaper 20 years ago.

Under the transaction announced Saturday, Red Sox owner John W Henry got the Boston Globe for less than a tenth of what the New York Times paid when it bought the newspaper for $1.1 billion in 1993.

Digital properties
The sale also includes the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, which the New York Times bought for about $300 million in 2000, as well as related digital properties of both papers, and a direct mail marketing company.

The sale comes after years of uncertainty for the Globe, which was put on the auction block twice as newspapers across the country have been hit by plunging advertising revenues and readers who increasingly prefer to get news on smart phones and tablets.

The New England properties were the last pieces of a once much bigger New York Times empire. The company has sold off everything – TV and radio assets, dozens of US regional papers, digital companies, and its stakes in sports ventures – to focus on its flagship and international edition.

“We are very proud of the association we have had with the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and we’re delighted to have found a buyer in John Henry, who has strong local roots and a deep appreciation of the importance of these publications to the Greater Boston community,” Mark Thompson, chief executive of The New York Times Co, said in a statement.

The media-shy Henry, who was born in Quincy, Illinois, and built his fortune as a futures trader, declined to outline his plans for the New England media group until the deal closes. But he said he wanted to make it clear “how strongly” he felt about the important role of the enterprises in New England, and especially the Boston Globe’s “award-winning journalism as well as its rich history and tradition of excellence.”

Total revenue for the New England papers fell 7.4 per cent in the second quarter to $94.4 million on declines in advertising and circulation revenue.

Pension obligations
Compounding the problems for the papers that likely weighed down the price were significant pension obligations and difficulty of negotiating changes with more than a dozen labour unions that represent about three-quarters of employees.

The New York Times said last week that it would maintain the pensions for the papers. The company first put the Globe up for sale in 2009 as it struggled with losses. But it halted the sale process and decided to hang onto the paper after winning concessions from unions and implementing cost cuts.– (Reuters)