NY Times Hires Goldman Sachs To Sell The Boston Globe

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Times Co has hired Goldman Sachs to manage the possible sale of The Boston Globe, and plans to request bids in the next couple of weeks, The Boston Globe reported on Wednesday.

The report comes after the Globe’s largest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, rejected a $10 million package of concessions aimed at cutting costs at the city’s largest daily newspaper.

On Tuesday, the Guild petitioned the U.S. government’s National Labor Relations Board to block the Times Co’s plan to slash union members’ pay by 23 percent to get the savings the newspaper publisher says it needs.

Media industry watchers have been expecting the Times Co to put the 137-year-old Globe up for sale, saying the cost-cuts were designed to streamline the newspaper and attract bidders. The Times has said the Globe is on track to post an $85 million operating loss this year.

The Globe’s Wednesday story quoted an unidentified potential buyer as saying the Times was willing to entertain bids on “any and all” of its New England properties, including the Globe and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

According to the report, another potential buyer said the process may take time, with the Times Co exploring options over the summer. Two other people involved in potential bids did not expect submissions until the Guild situation is resolved.

The newspaper guild said it wants to meet with any potential buyers of the paper to discuss its contract and the future of the paper, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We recognize that we are all facing difficult economic times and understand that any future owner of the Globe would require changes to our contact,” Guild President Dan Totten said.

“We would like to explore with any potential new owner the possibility of an equity stake for the newspaper for its guild employees and would work with any ownership group to be positive dynamic in any sale process,” he said.

Most U.S. newspaper publishers are reeling from sharp drops in advertising revenue, as the weak economy added to pressures caused by competition from Internet news sites and other new media outlets.

The guild in its statement said it likes the idea of union members getting a stake and board representation along with the paper’s owners.

It pointed to a similar situation at the Portland Press Herald in Maine, which the Blethen family is selling to a group of investors. The Portland Newspaper Guild is getting a limited ownership stake in the Press Herald.

The Times is trying to pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in debt, and is looking for someone to buy its 17.5 percent stake in the company that owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team, the Fenway Park ball field and other properties in Boston.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is fielding offers on New England Sports Ventures, the Red Sox’s parent company. It also is working on the Globe process, the paper reported.

A New York Times spokeswoman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Robert MacMillan and Tiffany Wu; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Richard Chang)