N.Y. Times may spend $1 billion to buy Boston Globe

June 01, 1993|By Newsday

Is the Boston Globe about to become the New England Times?

According to the latest issue of Time magazine, the New York Times has spent the past few months in serious talks to buy the Globe and is on the verge of striking a deal to spend as much as $1 billion for the 121-year-old newspaper.

Representatives of both papers declined to comment. But reports had surfaced recently that the Globe was for sale and that the prospective buyer would be a family-owned publishing company.

"The industry is often called 'The Club.' There are a few large publishers, mostly family-owned, and they all know each other," said media industry consultant Ken Noble. "The large ones on the acquisition trail have aggressively courted others should a deal come up later on."

Although both papers are owned by companies in which stock is traded publicly, voting rights are controlled through trusts owned by descendants of the founding publishers. The New York Times is controlled by the Sulzberger family.

The Globe has been the subject of frequent speculation because one of two such trusts holding a large portion of stock in Affiliated Publications, the Globe's parent, expires in 1996.

Some media insiders believe that the families holding more than 90 percent of the powerful Class B stock would prefer to sell their shares to a friendly interest while they can, Mr. Noble said.

"After the trust is broken up, they'll have little power to control what happens to the paper," said Mr. Noble. "There is pressure to do it before 1996."

Of course, any prospective buyer would be betting that the New England economy will regain enough strength to recoup a $1 billion investment, whether a deal is made in cash or stock.

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