Globe heah! Getchya Globe heah!
With the announcement by The New York Times Company that it will put the Globe and the rest of its New England holdings out for bid, the guessing game is commencing as to who will buy the broadsheet.
And despite the dire state of the newsprint industry, there should be no shortage of suitors for the 140-year-old paper that the Times purchased for a then-record $1.1 billion in 1993, though some of the prospective buyers will likely be bargain hunters hoping to get in on a fire sale.
Howie Carr dismisses the Globe as irrelevant these days, calling it a shadow of its former self and poo-pooing its string of Pulitzer Prizes, including the 10 the paper has won since being taken over by the Times. Yet the Herald, Carr’s own paper, devotes the front page and a good chunk of its shrinking inside news hole to the story, including a “short list” of investors who would be at the front of the line to write a check.
Among the consensus suitors would be the scions of the former owners, cousins Stephen and Ben Taylor, who have put together several independent attempts to buy back the paper. Advertising magnate Jack Connors has also belonged to a couple groups pursuing the paper and odds are he’d be included in one of the crowds making a run.
One group to watch would be any headed by former Globe president Rick Daniels, who stepped down as president and CEO of GateHouse Media New England in December to pursue what he described as investment and advisory roles for other media. “There’s a lot of pretty interesting deals that are out there and I’ve been approached by some folks who would like to do some of those deals,” Daniels told the Patriot Ledger when he stepped down.
Daniels’ heart never left the Globe; he still proudly brandishes the 2004 World Series ring presented to him by the Red Sox, where he sat in on partner meetings as the Times representative when the company owned a piece of the team. The paper sold off its remaining share of the Sox last year for $63 million. In fact, the Times sold off most of its non-New York holdings last year, including 16 regional newspapers, a handful of broadcast outlets and its online site, About.com. That’s a pretty good sign that they’re serious about the sale this time to focus on the mothership.
There’s a bunch of questions that will have to be answered in the coming days, including whether the Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette will be sold as a package or separately and if the Times will force prospective buyers to assume the estimated $100 million to $200 million pension liability. The Globe reports the Times may hang onto that liability to maximize the sale price.
The Globe reports the paper and the online products, boston.com and BostonGlobe.com, were profitable in 2011 and 2012. Among the accoutrements that would make the Globe attractive are its deals to print and distribute other dailies in the area, including the Herald, Patriot Ledger and the Brockton Enterprise. The paper has also been renting out vacant office space in the Morrissey Boulevard headquarters to tech start-ups and community groups, adding some value to the real estate.
It’s unclear if the Telegram & Gazette made money. That paper reports that one prospective buyer, Ralph Crowley Jr., president and CEO of Polar Beverages, was “worn out” from his previous attempt to buy the paper. Crowley, who put together a group that included former T&G editor Harry Whitin, told the Worcester paper he had no interest in buying both papers but didn’t rule out getting in the mix if the package was broken up.
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