NY Times prepares to sell Boston Globe

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The New York Times Co. said Wednesday that it is putting The Boston Globe and its related assets up for sale four years after it called off a previous attempt to sell the newspaper.

Mark Thompson, the Times' chief executive, said in a statement a sale would be in the best long-term interests of both properties, "given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times." Thompson said the sale would help the company concentrate its attention and investments on The New York Times' brand.

The newspapers' differences are stark. The Times has a national - even international - audience, and has been adding digital subscribers at a rapid clip.

Last year, it launched a Chinese-language website and has a loyal, growing subscriber base in the US.

Meanwhile, the Globe is focused on its readers in the New England region, and while its digital subscriptions have been increasing, analysts believe they aren't rising fast enough to be meaningful.

The Globe had 28,000 digital subscribers at the end of 2012, up 8 per cent from 3 months earlier.

In comparison, the Times and International Herald Tribune had 640,000 paying subscribers online, up 13 per cent over three months.

Analyst John Janedis of UBS said in a research note that the sale has been expected for years and "will allow NYT to focus on the core brand as it attempts to further build out its digital platform."

He estimated that the Globe earned about $37.5 million in profits before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation on US$375 million (S$464.5 million) in revenue.

Janedis said the sale could bring in $150 million to $175 million, not including pension liabilities or the value of the Globe's headquarters.

Along with the Globe, the Times plans to sell the Worcester Telegram & Gazette; the publications' related websites; the Globe's direct mail marketing company, GlobeDirect; and a 49 percent interest in Metro Boston, a free daily newspaper for commuters.

Led by Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the Times Co. is controlled by a family trust whose trustees are the descendants of Adolph Ochs, who bought the newspaper in 1896. The trust holds 90 percent of the non-traded Class B stock that is required to elect the majority of the board.

The Times bought the Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion from the family of Stephen Taylor, a former Globe executive. But the newspaper has faced difficulties in recent years as advertisers cut spending on newspapers and moved more ads online.

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