December 27, 2008 / 1:48 AM / in 9 years

New York Times courts ex-adman on Red Sox, Globe: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Times Co has begun courting former advertising executive Jack Connors as a potential bidder to buy its stake in the Boston Red Sox team and possibly The Boston Globe newspaper, the Financial Times reported on Friday, as the publisher tries to raise cash to support its struggling business.

<p>The headquarters of the New York Times is pictured on 8th Avenue in New York April 30, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn</p>

The Times’s 17.5 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures also has attracted the attention of Peter Nicholas, chairman and co-founder of medical devices maker Boston Scientific, the FT reported on Friday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

The Times, which has a $400 million credit line coming due next May, could raise $200 million to $225 million if it sells the stake, the FT reported. Analysts and bankers previously told Reuters that the stake could be worth about $200 million.

The publisher, which is controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, needs to raise money as it faces a debilitating drop in advertising revenue, something that is affecting nearly all U.S. newspaper publishers.

Connors, a former Boston advertising executive, was part of a group two years ago that was interested in buying the Globe. The group included former General Electric Co Chief Executive Jack Welch. The Times rejected that offer.

At the Time, the New York Times Co according to the FT and other news outlets, could have sold the Globe for $550 million to $600 million. But a recent report from Barclays estimated that the Globe could be worth about $20 million.

The Times owns other properties, including the online encyclopedia and several smaller daily newspapers. Selling papers has become more difficult than ever because of their falling ad revenue. Their valuations are at historic lows, but most bidders regard them as toxic because of their low prospects for growth.

Potential bidders, which the FT did not name in its report, are considering the idea of merging the Globe with the Ottaway newspaper chain -- small daily papers owned by Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co and now part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

The Ottaway papers are run by the recently hired Patrick Purcell, who owns and publishes the Globe’s rival daily in Boston, the Herald. Under the scenario, that paper would be shut down, the FT reported.

News Corp is not in such discussions, said a source close to News Corp who was not authorized to discuss the company’s plans.

Connors, Purcell and Nicholas could not be reached for comment. A New York Times spokeswoman declined to discuss the Times’s plans for the Red Sox stake and the Globe.

Reporting by Robert MacMillan; Editing by Bernard Orr

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