Times to sell Globe, other regional holdings

Company wants to focus on the flagship brand

The New York Times Company, trying to right its fiscal ship, has decided the best way to save the company is to bail on The Boston Globe and its other media holdings in New England.

New Times CEO Mark Thompson said in a statement the decision was based on “our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism.” According to a memo quoted by the Globe from Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.  to employees, the decision will “allow us to sharpen our strategic and financial focus on The New York Times brand.”

A story on the Times’ website today says the New England papers will likely be sold at auction.

In addition to the Globe, the Times’s New England Media Group’s holdings include BostonGlobe.com; the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and its website, telegram.com; boston.com; GlobeDirect, a direct mail marketing company; and a 49 percent stake in Metro Boston. Last year, the Times sold its share of the Red Sox for $63 million as well as a number of regional newspapers and broadcast outlets around the country

The Times purchased the Globe nearly 20 years ago for $1.1 billion, at the time a record for a newspaper purchase. While the paper reaped big earnings for the Times in the early years, its circulation and ad revenues have dropped precipitously with the rise of the Internet over the last 15 years. In 1998, the Globe had a Sunday circulation of more than 751,000 and a daily circulation of nearly 473,000. In last September’s circulation audit, the numbers were down to just over 372,500 for Sunday and 230,300 for daily.

The Times has put the paper up for sale before and has had several suitors over the last few years, including members of the Globe’s founding family, the Taylors. Aaron Kushner, a Wellesley businessman, made several attempts to buy the paper and has since purchased with his partners Freedom Communications, which owns seven western newspapers including the Orange County Register. He has said he is still interested in buying the Globe.

Here is the entire statement from Thompson:

The New York Times Company today announced that it plans to sell its New England Media Group, including The Boston Globe and its related properties, and that it has retained Evercore Partners to advise the Company and manage the sales process.

“Our plan to sell the New England Media Group demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company. “The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are outstanding newspapers and they and their related digital properties are well-managed leaders in their markets with real opportunities for future development. We are very proud of our association with the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, but given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times, we believe that a sale is in the best long-term interests of these properties and the employees who work for them as well as in the best interests of our shareholders.”

The principal properties that make up the New England Media Group are:

  • The Boston Globe
  • BostonGlobe.com
  • Boston.com
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette
  • Telegram.com
  • GlobeDirect, the Globe’s direct mail marketing company

Also included in the sale is the Company’s 49 percent interest in Metro Boston.

There can be no assurance that any transaction will take place. Additional details will be provided when and if the company enters into a transaction. As a matter of policy, the company will not comment upon any proposals, discussions or rumors regarding the proposed sale.