Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Slim New York Times?

The NY Post reports - - -

The embattled New York Times Co., trying to wriggle out from under a pile of debt as advertising revenue dries up, is talking to Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim about making a sizeable cash investment in the company.

Slim, said to be the world's second-richest person with $60 billion, bought a 6.4 percent common share stake in the Times Co. in September for about $118 million, but is interested in gaining a larger share of the company, according to a report last night in The Wall Street Journal. …

[The current talks involve] preferred shares [which] would carry no voting rights, but pay a dividend, according to the report. His current stake puts Slim among the largest non-Sulzberger owners of the Times.

The Times is under the gun to raise cash as a $400 million credit line expires in May. The recession has squeezed the paper, which reported a 21 percent drop in ad revenue in November.

The newspaper has made some drastic moves recently to increase cash flow and to raise the needed money, including:

* An ongoing attempt to raise $225 million by selling its 58 percent stake in the new 52-story Midtown skyscraper and then leasing the office space.

* Putting its 17.5 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures, the parent of the Boston Red Sox, on the block. That could raise about $150 million.

* Layoffs and buyouts at the flagship New York Times and its Boston Globe property.

* Cutting back its dividend to investors for three years.

* The recent move to reduce the number of standalone sections and to sell advertising for the first time on Page 1 of the Times.

The rest of the Post's story’s here.

My comments:

Five years ago who would’ve believed the Times would be where its at?

It was just over three-and-a-half years ago the Times introduced something called
Times Select.

Remember? It began charging for Internet access to its “premium content.” You know – Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman and Bob Herbert’s columns and the like as well as access to its archives.

Times Select turned out to be just what many bloggers and media critics said it would be: A flop for the Times as most people decided its “premium content” wasn’t worth $7.95 per month or $40.95 per year. The Times Company abandoned the program after about 18 months.

Times Select’s failure was a blow to the paper’s prestige. That failure has no doubt been a contributing factor to the Times’ shrinking ad revenue.

This Reuters story reports an unnamed source says the Times’ board is planning a special meeting sometime this week.


Anonymous said...

As I'm sure John knows ,Warren Buffet has been a large stockholder in WaPo for decades.They also have a two tiered voting plan.Buffet was a paperboy for the Post as a childs and originally bought for personal reasons.Still,I have to wondere if his seat on the board is a factor in why one company's healthy and the other isn'tAn,I doubt anyone who has acumulaed that wealth is going to invest without control.