Private equity firm Platinum Equity, which specializes in acquiring distressed companies, wants to add the Boston Globe to its newspaper holdings, the paper reported today. Sources tell the Globe the bid for the New England Media Group is $35 million, plus the assumption of $59 million in pension liabilities from the New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) The Beverly Hills-based firm picked up the San Diego Union-Tribune in March for a reported $50 million, then cut nearly 20 percent of the staff and started selling the valuable real estate thought to be one of the reasons for the deal. So far, Platinum is declining comment.
While the process has been going on for a couple of months, the NYTCo admitted only yesterday in an SEC filing that it has hired Goldman, Sachs to sell the New England Media Group, which includes the Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and their websites. Two other bidders reportedly are at the table: the team of Boston civic leader and businessman Jack Connors and Stephen Pagliuca, co-owner of the Boston Celtics and an exec at PE firm Bain Capital, and Steve Taylor, an investor and former Globe exec whose family sold the paper to NYTCo for $1.1 billion in 1993.
The Platinum bid could wind up helping the locals by bringing in more support, including additional funding — and by making those bids look better to the Times in terms of what they can do to preserve the paper. But it also could have the opposite effect if people feel relieved that there is a buyer that will at least keep the paper open. In an interview Thursday, NYTCo Chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., told the Globe he is aware of concerns about a buyer that might come in and slash staff but that price isn’t the only consideration. Then again, he works for a public company.