News Column

Murdoch, Times Have Mutual Interest in Bid

Feb 25, 2013

Richard Weir, Boston Herald

Rupert Murdoch

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, reported to be on The New York Times Co.'s shortlist of suitors for its Boston Globe, would be a bargain hunter looking to get the Hub newspaper on the cheap from his archrival at the Times, who in turn could use the News Corp. chairman's bid to drive up the price of other offers, according to media analysts.

"The perception is that Rupert is the leading buyer of newspapers in the country if not, I suppose, the world. So obviously ... if you are selling a newspaper, you certainly want him in the action," said Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Wolff, author of "The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch."

Such a deal would require some hatchet-burying by Murdoch and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the The New York Times Co., Wolff said, noting Murdoch would act as "bottom feeder" looking to call the shots while Sulzberger could benefit by having Murdoch drum up interest in the Globe.

"Undoubtedly, Arthur wants the biggest bid he can get, but in Arthur's ideal world, he would get the biggest bid for the newspaper as well as turn down Rupert's bid," Wolff said.

The Wall Street Journal, which Murdoch's company bought from the Bancroft family for $5 billion in 2007, cited sources in reporting Friday that the Times Co. is "hoping to draw a bid" from Murdoch -- even as the Times has been in talks with another potential buyer who submitted a $100 million bid last month.

That offer came from former Globe President Rick Daniels -- who also oversaw GateHouse Media New England -- and private equity firm Boston Post Partners, the Journal said. The Herald reported earlier last week that Daniels and Boston Post were likely bidders for the Globe, after they reportedly were in talks with the Times Co. last year.

Their bid, the Journal wrote, included the assumption of between $25 million and $35 million in Globe pension liabilities.

Representatives of News Corp. and the Times declined to comment.

Another potential suitor for the 141-year-old broadsheet emerged Friday -- Bay State car czar Ernie Boch Jr., who said he was exploring a bid.

Media observers said Murdoch is the only potential bidder who would have both the deep pockets and the know-how to efficiently take over the Globe.

"He had a great interest in the Wall Street Journal and he paid a steep price for it," media analyst and author Harold Vogel said of Murdoch. "I don't detect he has the same passion for (the Globe). ... He would not stretch on the price to get it."

Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, said he believes the Times Co. would not let its "real rivalry" with Murdoch and the Journal stand in the way of a deal.

"I think the Times (executives') interest at this point is really straightforward: They have a duty as directors of the company to make a good effort to find the best price," he said.



Source: (c)2013 Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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