Harbinger Capital Partners, which once owned nearly 20 percent of the New York Times Co., has now cut that stake to under five percent, effectively bringing to an end a period in which the activist hedge fund had advocated for “bold action” to turn around the company’s performance and ultimately settled for two seats on its board. An SEC filing shows that Harbinger sold roughly seven million shares of NYTCo (NYSE: NYT). stock over the last month, generating about $56 million and reducing its stake in the publisher from 7 percent to 2.58 percent.
Harbinger spent more than $500 million accumulating its stake in mid-2008 as part of a proxy fight. The hedge fund settled that fight in March 2008 in exchange for two seats on the NYTCo’s board. One of its representatives, James Kohlberg, remains a board member, but the the company has been whittling down its stake since last fall.
The investment appears to have been a big money-loser for Harbinger. The company initially bought up its NYTCo. shares when they were trading at between $18 and $20. They closed today at $9.10.