MediaFile

Hi, I’m Gregory Lee, banker for The New York Times

We’ve heard in recent days that The New York Times has gotten some interest in its stake in the Boston Red Sox, but it seems like whatever offers are being discussed, they must not be enough for the publisher.

In the murky, mysterious world of mergers and acquisitions, companies and their bankers and financial advisers tend to operate far below the radar — only surfacing to leak the news in The Wall Street Journal that a deal is close at hand.

Not this time. While the Journal did get the tip-off back in December, the Times on Wednesday simply issued a press release inviting all comers to take a look at the stake. Not only that, the Times published the name of the Goldman Sachs banker handling the sale, along with his phone number. Usually, as a reporter, you have to cash in lots of chips to get digits like that.

Why do it this way? Because no one bit when they did it in the usual way. That means the NYT’s price for the stake either will come down, or it will have to wait a while until it finds someone who shares its conception of what the stake must be worth. (We’ve heard all sorts of numbers, but $200 million seems like one that analysts could agree on. It could go lower from there.)

So in the new spirit of openness and media companies helping media companies, serious buyers can call Gregory Lee at Goldman Sachs, 212-902-7584.

New York Times — Profit sliding, Red Sox stake up for sale

The New York Times confirmed this morning that it’s looking to get rid of its stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team, something previously reported by a number of news outlets.

The Times could raise at least $200 million selling its stake, analysts have said, though it should be noted that selling anything these days — even part of a first class baseball organization — is no easy task.

Check back to MediaFile for more on the sale shortly.

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of the New York Times decline in quarterly results:

Could Slim be a bad harbinger for New York Times dissidents?

Mexican billionaire and telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim is poised to throw hundreds of millions of dollars at The New York Times Co so the newspaper publisher can buy some more time to get its act together as advertising revenue falls and debt looms. If he is truly an ally of the Times, as our sources say, it could prove bad news for dissident investors like Harbinger Capital Partners who are pressing for drastic changes at the Times.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story on Saturday night, closely followed by Reuters. It was The New York Times itself (surprise!) that reported the specifics of Slim’s “bailout package” for the Times:

    A $250 million investment in exchange for 10-year notes with warrants that are convertible into common shares. A special annual dividend would go to Slim — maybe 10 percent or more of his investment. No voting rights, no board seat. With his 6.4 percent stake in the Times’s common shares, this could make him the largest Times shareholder, bigger even than the Ochs-Sulzberger family that has controlled the times since 1896.

The value of Slim’s previous investment already has fallen, but if he is treating the Times more as a philanthropic exercise than a business decision, this could work out well for both parties.