The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) went public this morning with the effort to sell its 17.75 percent interest in New England Sports Ventures, LLC, (NESV) announcing the hiring of Goldman, Sachs & Co. to “explore the possible sale.” NESV is among the most potentially lucrative non-publishing assets the company owns; it includes the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, 80 percent of New England Sports Net, and half of NASCAR’s Roush Fenway Racing team. NYTCo, the second-largest shareholder in the holding company, acquired its stake in 2002, before the storied team won two World Series; the value has been estimated at about $166 million with thoughts that it could sell for about $200 million.
While it has been suggested for some time (including, I admit, here) that NESV was on the list of assets the company should sell, confirmation of an active effort didn’t surface until late last month. WSJ reported then that the company had notified its partners in November of its interest in selling. It’s one of a series of steps the owner of the New York Times and Boston Globe has taken to raise money ahead of the May expiration of a $400 million line of credit.
At the time of the investment, the company hoped it would help its own New England franchise. NYTCo acquired the Globe with parent Affiliated Publications in 1993 for $1 billion in cash and stock. But this decade has not been kind to the Globe or the entire New England Media Group; NYTCo took a $166 million writedown on the group in Q308. More to come