The New York Times announced on Wednesday that it will attempt to sell its New England Media Group for the second time in four years. The Times bought the subsidiary — which includes the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette along with BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, Telegram.com, and GlobeDirect (the Globe’s direct mail marketing company) — for $1.1 billion in 1993. If the Times is able to find a buyer for the package, it will be lucky to get $200 million, according to analyst John Janedis of UBS.
This continues the Times’ efforts to shed assets in light of the continuing revolution in news delivery from print to digital. In the last few years it has sold its stake in newspapers in Florida and California along with its interest in the Boston Red Sox and the website About.com.
Mark Thompson, the brand new CEO at the Times, put a happy face on the move:
Our plan to sell the New England Media Group demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism.
[We are] proud of our association with the Globe [but] given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times, we believe that a sale is in the best long term interests of these properties and the employees who work for them as well as in the best interests of our shareholders.
Those shareholders have been suffering of late, watching the value of the Times’ stock drop from over $20 a share in 2007 to under $9 currently. This reflects the sagging operations of the Times, with its revenues declining from $3 billion in 2008 to less than $2 billion in 2012, and its earnings per share being positive in only two of the last five years, mostly reflecting the sale of assets.
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