By Christopher B. Daly
The New York Times Co. has declared its intention (again) to sell the Boston Globe and has solicited bids. They are due on June 27. Since the Globe employs the largest team of journalists in New England, the outcome of that process is of interest to every resident of the region.
So, as a public service, here is a handicapping of the field of bidders. (the Globe itself identified eight potential buyers — both individuals and groups — but reported today that the “Kraft group” has dropped out. Perhaps Robert Kraft is too busy overseeing his wayward football players or squiring his babe/girlfriend to charity events?)
Note: As the estimable blogger/professor Dan Kennedy has pointed out, the Globe sale includes not just the business but some pretty significant tangible assets, including a big chunk of property in Dorchester that is ripe for development into something more attractive than the uber-utilitarian Globe building, plus what is probably the biggest array of printing presses in New England, not to mention a fleet of boxy green trucks.
–The Comeback Kids: Two members of the Taylor family, which founded the Globe in 1873 and ran it until 1993, are interested. Cousins Ben and Steve Taylor have teamed up with former magazine executive Jack Griffin. For the Taylors, this would be a way to recycle some of the vast pile of money they took from the Sulzberger family when the Times Co.
overpaid for bought the Globe from the Taylors for $1.1 billion. It would fascinating to know what the Taylors have done with that $1.1 billion over the last 20 years. If they had invested it in the Dow Jones Industrials, their haul would be worth about $4.5 billion today. So, they could easily afford to buy back the Globe at its steeply discounted current value. Estimates vary wildly, but it’s hard to imagine it could bring in $200 million. FYI, Griffin was a heavy-hitter in the magazine business: he was a top exec at Conde Nast, Meredith, and TIME Inc. until he set up a magazine consulting company, Empirical Media. He made an earlier play for the Globe with Aaron Kushner, but Kushner appears to have no role in this round of bidding.
–Rick Daniels, is a former president of the Boston Globe Co. (2001-2006). A Cohasset resident and B.U. alum, Daniels was an executive with GateHouse Media, which publishes the Patriot Ledger, the Brockton Enterprise, and the MetroWest newspaper, from 2007 to 2012. He is teamed with Heb Ryan of Boston Post Partners LLC, a private equity firm with an insanely discreet website. (Eds: Heb is cq; his full name is Heberden.)
—John J. Gormally Jr., president of Gormally Broadcasting LLC in Springfield. Gormally owns an ABC affiliate WGGB-TV and a Fox affiliate, and it publishes BusinessWest , which calls itself “The Business Journal of Western Massachusetts.”
–Shannon Liss-Riordan, a Boston labor attorney at Lichten & Liss-Riordan, who call themselves “The Labor, Employment & Class Action Specialists” — which should serve Liss-Riordan in sorting out the Globe’s famously contentious and expensive labor agreements. A 1996 Harvard Law School grad, she has made a career of sticking up for the little guy, representing thousands of waiters and waitresses in forcing their employers to fork over their tips — including a big 2006 jury verdict in a case against Hilltop Steak House. Unclear where she would round up the necessary millions.
–Robert Loring, founder and managing partner of Revolution Capital Group, which is based in Los Angeles. Loring, 48, a B.C. grad, was involved in the deal in which Revolution Capital bought the Tampa Tribune last year and bought the Clearwater (Fla.) Gazette two months ago. Since they are in the money business and sometimes in the newspaper-buying business, this seems like a plausible bidder.
–Jahm Najafi, another founder of another private equity firm, this one based in Phoenix. Nafafi, a Harvard Business School grad, is an owner of the Phoenix Suns but no newspapers. The closest thing to a newspaper is a publication we have all looked at: SkyMall.
–Douglas F. Manchester, a conservative businessman from Southern California, was a key donor in the campaign to ban gay marriage in California. “Papa Doug” has had a long career of running lots of companies, including the merged daily newspapers serving San Diego, the Union and the Tribune, which he inelegantly re-named the “U-T.” This is small, but I gotta say, he seems very un-Boston.
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Overall, it’s disappointing that there aren’t more local bidders and that there are zero minority applicants.