The New York Times

Red Sox owner John Henry to buy The Boston Globe for US$70m

Red Sox owner John Henry to pay US$70 million for The Boston Globe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 2013, 9:03am

John Henry took a failing club in a dilapidated park and transformed it into a two-time World Series champion that is one of baseball's model franchises.

As the new owner of The Boston Globe, he will try to turn around a newspaper that - like many other major metro dailies - is shedding staff, subscribers and advertisers as it makes the transition into the internet age.

Henry, who also owns soccer club Liverpool in the English Premier League, agreed to buy the Globe for US$70 million, a fraction of the US$1.1 billion The New York Times company paid 20 years ago, among the highest prices paid for a US newspaper. At the time, the Globe was one of the nation's most prestigious papers in a more robust newspaper environment. But like other newspapers, it began to lose readers and advertisers to the internet, and revenue slumped.

For the Globe, the planned sale restores a Boston connection that prevailed for 120 years under the Taylor family, which owned the paper from 1873 until its sale 20 years ago. While not from Boston, Henry has for the last decade been active in local sports, and his Fenway Sports Group owns the Red Sox baseball club, its home base Fenway Park and 80 per cent of cable TV's New England Sports Network.

"This is a thriving, dynamic region that needs a strong, sustainable Boston Globe playing an integral role in the community's long-term future," Henry said in a statement about the sale. "In coming days there will be announcements concerning those joining me in this community commitment and effort."

In addition to the Globe, the sale includes;; the direct-mail marketing company Globe Direct; the company's 49 per cent interest in Metro Boston, a free daily paper; and The Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The Times bought the Telegram & Gazette for US$295 million in 1999.

Henry is buying the media group without partners through his acquisition company; under terms of the sale, he does not have to assume the Globe's pension liabilities.

The Globe is not the only paper to sell at a heavily discounted price. In April 2012, Philadelphia's newspapers sold for US$55 million after selling for US$515 million in 2006. In October, The Tampa Tribune sold for US$9.5 million. In recent talks on the sale of the Tribune company's portfolio of newspapers, analysts estimated that the entire newspaper company, including The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune, was worth only US$623 million.

In recent years the Times company. has been divesting itself of assets to focus on developing its core title, The New York Times. In 2012, the company sold its 16 regional newspapers. Last year, it sold the About Group to IAC/InterActiveCorp for US$300 million.

This year, the Times announced plans to expand its global presence by changing the name of The International Herald Tribune to The International New York Times and attracting a new global audience of readers to become subscribers.

As many papers have struggled to remain relevant with younger readers who read more news online, The Globe made some strides at attracting younger audiences. Under the leadership of its publisher, Christopher Mayer, the Globe invited technology start-up firms to use abandoned classified advertising space in its shrinking newsroom. It also turned empty space into community spaces where bands visiting the company's internet station, RadioBDC, could perform.

The New York Times, Associated Press