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Mon, Jun 29, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Times Co hopes to sell two papers

LET THE BUYER BEWARE: The New York Times Co hopes the buyer of the ‘Boston Globe’ and ‘Worcester Telegram and Gazette’ will take US$59 million in pension liabilities

AFP , WASHINGTON

The New York Times Co hopes to sell a second Massachusetts newspaper along with the money-losing Boston Globe, the Times reported on Saturday.

The Times Co is seeking to sell the Worcester Telegram and Gazette along with the Boston Globe and also wants the buyer to take on US$59 million in pension liabilities at the newspapers, the newspaper said.

The Times said its parent company “intends to make a deal quite quickly” and has set a July 8 deadline for initial, nonbinding bids.

The pension liabilities reportedly include US$51 million at the Boston Globe and US$8 million at the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

The Times Co bought the Boston Globe for US$1.1 billion in 1993 but the value of the newspaper has plummeted since then along with the fortunes of the US newspaper industry.

The Times Co bought the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, the largest newspaper in central Massachusetts, for US$295 million in 2000.

The Times Co reached an ­agreement on US$10 million in wage and benefit cuts this week with the largest union at the Boston Globe, making the newspaper potentially more attractive to a buyer.

The nearly 700 members of the union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, will vote on the proposed package of cuts on July 20.

The Times Co reached agreements with six of the newspaper’s seven unions last month on an additional US$10 million in cuts.

Like other US newspapers, the Globe has been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

Before the cuts, the Globe had been forecast to lose US$85 ­million this year, the Times Co said, which has been struggling with escalating losses of its own and a heavy debt burden.

The Times Co recently completed a sale-leaseback deal for part of its Manhattan headquarters in a move aimed at raising cash to pay down its debt.

It also received a US$250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

The Times Co is also seeking a buyer for its 17.75 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures, which owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team and their iconic stadium, Fenway Park.

With a weekday circulation of around 300,000, the Boston Globe is the 17th largest newspaper in the US. It began publishing in 1872.

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