Evidently, newspapers still appeal to your average tycoon as a potential trophy holding.
reported Friday that at least three potential buyers are interested in purchasing the struggling Beantown daily from its struggling owner, the
New York Times
According to the report, all three are currently running due diligence on the
and/or lining up funds and/or "mulling bids." All, too, are Bostonians of long standing, a condition thought to be a requirement for anyone considering stepping in to, in effect, save the 137-year old newspaper, among the more storied daily publications in the U.S. (And all three, of course, have declined to comment on their interest.)
A quick-and-dirty handicapping of the players, in order of their probable ability to muster the funds for such a purchase:
Steve Pagliuca, one of the major figures at the top of
, the Boston private-equity behemoth. Part owner of local hoops icons, the Boston Celtics. Consummate Wall Street insider with access to loads of capital. Knows a thing or two about buying companies. (Though, as is the case with all buyout kings now, the credit-happy days of yore have come back to haunt certain huge take-privates they conducted at the peak of the boom.)
Jack Connors, a Boston area adman who helped sell his advertising firm for $115 million a few years ago and is reportedly worth half a billion dollars. Chairman of the nonprofit hospital group,
, he's mostly a philanthropist these days. Has plenty of time (and money) on his hands. Understands the ad business, and also has shown documented interest: he raised the prospect of buying the Globe three years ago.
Steve Taylor, scion of the family that once ruled the
and sold it to the
in 1993 for a then-whopping $1.1 billion (at the time, the biggest newspaper deal ever done). Actually, a cousin in that family. Taylor himself worked at the
for more than 20 years, from intern to president of the paper's electronic publishing business, which would have been a very nascent business circa 1993. (He left the
took over.) Now ensconced in the Ivory Tower, he's a lecturer in media at the Yale School of Management. Teaches a course entitled "Media Economics & Financing Journalism." Will need to summon all of that knowledge in order to buy the
. More than Connors and Pagliuca, two whales, Taylor would need the help of investors and outside sources of funding.
experienced a dramatic week. On Monday, the newspapers' biggest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, largely made up of editorial staff, voted by a slim margin to reject a contract that would have cut pay by 10% along with other concessions. Now, the
has followed through on its threat to cut pay by 23% in order to obtain the $20 million in savings it says it needs to keep the
Then, on Wednesday night, it emerged that the
-- at least according to the
reporting -- had hired Goldman Sachs to shop the Boston daily to potential buyers.
Media-industry pundits have been divided on the idea of a
sale. Some say the
has intended to cut it loose all along, slashing costs and taking care of the "union problem" being two of its priorities as it moves toward a sale.
Others, however, raise the question of whether the
could ever find a serious buyer for the
, given its financial state and the perceived obsolescence of print media. Better and ultimately more profitable, these people say, to hold onto the
and its still-powerful brand name and attempt to make a go of it.
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