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NY Times denies rumors, says it is ‘not for sale’

NY Times denies rumors, says it is ‘not for sale’
The publisher and chairman of the New York Times is dispelling rumors it is up for sale, after last week both The Boston Globe and The Washington Post changed hands.

“Will our family seek to sell The Times? The answer to that is no. The Times is not for sale,” Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the paper chairman, said in a statement on The Times website confirming it would not follow the fate of other newspapers and seek a buyer.

The statement also emphasized the family that owns the over 150-year-old paper, the Ochs-Sulzberger, have no intention of following the trend of jettisoning their paper.

Last Saturday, the Times Company announced it was selling its New England Media Group for $70 million to the owner of the Boston Red Sox. On Tuesday, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos paid $250 million to acquire the Washington Post, which had been family-run for over 80 years.

The Grey Lady, as its dotingly nicknamed by some New Yorkers, would fetch a far prettier penny than either media outlet. According to a Forbes estimate, The Times is worth $908 million in cash and securities and $694 million in debt.

Family ties in the Sulzberger clan are more unified, which will protect against a sale, according to Arthur Sulzberger. The family is “united in our commitment to work together with the company's board, senior management and employees to lead the New York Times forward into our global and digital future."

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times (AFP Photo / Yasuyoshi Chiba)

The timing of the statement is most likely to reassure investors and hedge against a declining share price after the sale of The Washington Post and The Boston Globe.

On Wednesday, the company’s stock price closed down 6 cents, at $12.02, bordering its year-high price of $12.84 and far from its year-low share price of $7.72. Shares peaked in June 2002 and soared to over $50.00 and hit near-record lows in February 2009, nearly dipping under $4.00.

The New York Times Company’s market capitalization is $1.8 billion, compared to The Washington Post Company’s pre-sale capitalization of $4.2 billion.

Media outlets have been selling off their profit-sagging trophy print publications for just fractions of their initial value. The Times paid nearly $1.1 billion for The Boston Globe in 1993, nearly16 times the price it sold it to Red Sox owner John Henry.

The sale wasn’t pretty either. The Times had to assume $110 million in pension liabilities as a sale condition, losing $40 million in the transaction.

If the Sulzbergers' decide to join the Washington Post's Grahams on the newspaper-selling bandwagon, they will likely have to wait, because as both recent acquisitions of the Globe and Post have shown, it’s a buying not a selling, market.

Going Digital

Second quarter earnings boosted confidence at The Times, as the company reported a surprising profit with a reported rise of $20.1 million in net income. The company attributed the profit to strong circulation and lower operating costs.

Conversely, The Washington Post had a reported 14 percent drop in circulation, and a 11 percent drop in Sunday circulation.

The Times plans to bolster profit through its paid online content strategy. Year-on-year, they have already seen their subscribed membership increase 35 percent.

In the summer of 2012, the Post launched its subscribed membership platform, which limited online content to 20 free articles per month.