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Field of bidders for Globe narrows

At least three investor groups with local ties apparently remain in contention to buy The Boston Globe and its related businesses, according to people briefed on the matter.

The narrowed field of bidders includes members of the Taylor family that formerly owned the Globe; Boston Red Sox owner John Henry; and Robert Loring, a Massachusetts native who owns the Tampa Tribune, said people briefed on the process.

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The owner of the U-T San Diego newspaper is a possible fourth finalist, but the status of the bid could not be confirmed Thursday.

The three bidders with local ties have been told they remain under consideration by investment bankers representing The New York Times Co., which is selling the Globe, its BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com websites, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and other related properties.

The competing bids range from $65 million to $80 million, according to the people briefed on the matter.

The group involving cousins Benjamin and Stephen Taylor is led by former Time Inc. chief executive Jack Griffin. The Taylor family sold the Globe to the Times Co. 20 years ago.

The Taylors tried to acquire the Globe in 2009, when the Times Co. previously put the paper up for sale. The owners had threatened to stop publishing the Globe unless employees agreed to cuts in wages and benefits that year. Employees agreed to make those concessions, the Globe’s financial performance improved, and the Times Co. eventually took the paper off the market. This time – with the Times Co. looking to focus on its core business and international expansion — a sale is likely to be completed.

At least seven bidders had submitted offers by a June 27 deadline set by the New York Times.

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The owners of New England Sports Network, with Henry at the helm, is also a bidder. Henry is the principal owner of Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and controls 80 percent of NESN. Delaware North Cos., led by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, holds the remaining 20 percent stake in NESN.

Henry has had previous business dealings with the Times Co., which in 2002 bought a 17.5 percent stake in the Red Sox. The Times Co. tripled its $75 million investment on the Sox in 10 years, divesting the last of its holdings in 2012.

Loring, who is from the South Shore, now runs Revolution Capital, a Los Angeles private equity firm whose holdings include the Tampa Tribune newspaper. He bought the Tribune last year and acquired the weekly Clearwater Gazette in Florida three months ago. After graduating Boston College in the early 1990s, Loring briefly worked at the Boston Herald.

Douglas Manchester, a West Coast real estate developer who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011 and later changed its name to the U-T, is the possible fourth contender to buy the Globe. He has visited the paper’s Morrissey Boulevard headquarters and expressed interest in the company.

At least seven bidders had submitted offers by a June 27 deadline set by the Times Co.’s investment bankers, Evercore Partners. Others who had submitted bids by the deadline included a group led by former Globe president Rick Daniels and Boston private equity executive Heb Ryan; Boston attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan; and John J. Gormally Jr. of Gormally Broadcasting in Springfield.

The Times Co. put the Globe and its related businesses up for sale in February. In recent years, the company has sold off other business units, including a group of 16 regional newspapers and the website About.com.

Beth Healy can be reached at bhealy@globe.com.
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