Saturday, August 1, 2009

New York Times gets early Boston Globe bids: paper

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Two Boston groups offered early bids on Thursday to buy the Boston Globe from The New York Times Co, the Globe reported on Friday.

One group includes Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team and a top executive at private equity company Bain Capital, the Globe reported.

It also includes former advertising executive Jack Connors, who previously worked with ex-General Electric Chief Executive Jack Welch to buy the paper, the Globe said.

Stephen Taylor, part of the family that sold the Globe to the Times Co for $1.1 billion in 1993 and a former Globe executive, leads the other group, the Globe reported.

None of the bidders could be reached. Reuters previously has confirmed their interest in buying the paper. Times and Globe officials were not immediately available to comment.

The groups submitted the bids for the 137-year-old money-losing paper on Thursday, the day that the Times Co set as an early deadline.

Pagliuca's and Connors's group proposed that a nonprofit foundation would help run the news operation, the Globe reported. It is an idea that has been debated in recent years by journalism and business experts as a way to help newspapers survive as more of them face doom because more people get their news online for free instead of in print.

The Times wants bidders to take other properties that it owns in Massachusetts, most notably the Telegram & Gazette, the daily paper of nearby Worcester.

It has repeatedly refused to comment on whether it is trying to sell the Globe despite widespread reports that the paper is in play.

The Times has said that it wants to sell its interest in the holding company that controls the Boston Red Sox.

The Times is trying to get out of New England as part of its strategy for survival. The company is fighting a severe loss of advertising revenue and also has hundreds of millions of dollars of debt that it must pay in the next few years.

To maintain its financial health, it has been selling or trying to sell multiple assets, including, most recently, its classical music radio station in New York City.

It also wrested $20 million of annual savings from unions at the Globe and threatened to close the paper when the largest union balked at accepting $10 million of the cuts. Now that the union has agreed, the Times can present a more positive financial picture to potential bidders.

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