How John Henry ended up buying the Globe for nothing

How John Henry ended up buying the Globe for nothing

By selling some assets, billionaire got what he wanted at no cost

IT TOOK A LITTLE LONGER than he planned, but John Henry managed to purchase the Boston Globe and a new printing facility in Taunton for nothing.

Henry, a billionaire who also owns the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club, started the ball rolling in October 2013, paying The New York Times Co. $70 million for the Globe and its printing facility in Boston, the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester and its printing facility in Millbury, and a 49 percent stake in the Metro commuter newspaper in Boston.

In May 2014, Henry sold the Telegram & Gazette for a reported $17.5 million. And then on December 20, 2017, after two earlier failed attempts in 2015 and 2017, he sold the Globe’s headquarters in Dorchester for $81 million. Together, the sale of the Telegram & Gazette and the Morrissey Boulevard property netted him a total of $98.5 million.

Henry had to spend $20.3 million acquiring the printing facility in Taunton, but overall he got what he wanted (the Globe and a new printing facility) at no cost on a net basis. Indeed, he came out $8.2 million ahead, and still owns the Millbury printing plant, which has an assessed value of $7.6 million, and the 49 percent stake in the Boston Metro.

Of course, Henry has had to invest additional money in the Globe and the Taunton printing facility since acquiring them. But there’s no question his deal with the New York Times worked out very well for him.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

For The New York Times, the deal may have been one of the worst ever. The company paid $1.1 billion for the Globe in 1993 and $296 million for the Telegram & Gazette in 2000. The Times even retained all of the pension obligations of the two newspapers when it sold them in 2013. And, as Henry has demonstrated, the Times sold the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette at a price that was well below the value of the real estate involved.

Even more surprising, the Times sold to Henry even though other bidders were ready to pay more — as much as $40 million more. The Globe reported that Henry may have won the bidding because he was paying in cash and didn’t have a lot of partners. Others suggested Henry was given a hometown discount, perhaps because the Times was one of Henry’s original partners in purchasing the Red Sox, and made out quite well in that transaction. The company invested $75 million for a 17.75 percent stake in the club in 2002. Eight years later the Times began selling its shares, recouping more than $210 million in all for a pretax gain of nearly $129 million.

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