June 27 deadline looms for bids to buy Globe
At least 8 potential purchasers may give offers to Times Co.
At least eight potential buyers, ranging from former newspaper executives with local roots to private equity investors from the West Coast, are weighing bids for The Boston Globe as the June 27 deadline for submitting offers approaches, according to several people involved in or briefed on the sale process.
Among those vying for the Globe are two competing local groups, one led by members of the Taylor family that once owned the company and another that includes a former president of the newspaper. Two out-of-town newspaper executives — one with a paper in San Diego, the other a private equity group with a paper in Tampa — are also potential bidders. And the Kraft Group, owner of the New England Patriots football team, has expressed interest.
The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, has hired investment bankers from Evercore Partners to conduct meetings with possible buyers, some of whom have toured the Globe building and plant in recent weeks.
The sale process is confidential, making a precise roster of bidders difficult to confirm. The list of interested parties is still taking shape, and some groups could eventually drop out or merge. Both the Times Co. and Evercore declined to comment.
This article is based on interviews with a number of people involved in or briefed on the bidding process. These people spoke on the condition of anonymity because they signed agreements that prevent them from discussing the bidding publicly.
The Times Co. is seeking to sell its entire New England Media Group, which includes the Globe and its websites, BostonGlobe.com and Boston.com. It also encompasses The Worcester Telegram & Gazette and its website, as well as the Globe’s direct mail marketing business and a 49 percent interest in the Metro Boston newspaper.
It appears the Times Co. will receive more offers than it did in 2009, when it first put the Globe up for sale and New England’s largest newspaper was losing money. In that round, the parent company received only a few bids after threatening to shut down the Globe. The Times Co. took the paper off the market after receiving pay concessions from unions.
One group of bidders, previously named in stories, is led by former magazine executive Jack Griffin and two members of the Taylor family, which sold the Globe to the Times Co. 20 years ago. Cousins Ben and Steve Taylor tried to buy the Globe in 2009, but the Times Co. decided not to sell.
Another local group, also previously reported, is headed by a former Globe president, Rick Daniels, and private equity executive Heb Ryan.
The two had been courting the Times Co. in January, before the company decided to put the Globe out for bid. They had been at odds with the Times Co.’s investment bankers but have resolved those issues and plan to make an offer.
The Kraft Group is also believed to be pursuing information that could lead to a bid.
While their plans are less clear than those of other parties, members of the Kraft organization have met with the Times Co.’s investment bankers and recently held meetings with Globe representatives.
Potential out-of-town bidders include Revolution Capital Group, a Los Angeles private equity firm, and Najafi Cos., an Arizona investment firm that owns the Phoenix Suns professional basketball team.
In addition, Douglas Manchester, owner of the U-T San Diego newspaper (formerly known as the Union-Tribune), may be preparing a bid.
Revolution Capital’s founder, Robert Loring, 48, is a Boston College graduate who briefly worked as a sportswriter at the Boston Herald in the early 1990s.
His firm last year bought the Tampa Tribune and in April it acquired the weekly Clearwater Gazette in Florida.
Jahm Najafi, chief executive of the Najafi Cos., spent time in Boston as a graduate student in business and economics at Harvard University. His firm does not presently own any newspapers but has invested in SkyMall, the airline magazine, and some digital properties.
Manchester, a real estate investor, toured the Globe recently, according to people who saw him. He bought the San Diego newspaper in 2011 from Platinum Equity, a private equity firm that tried to buy the Globe in 2009.
Prices for the New England media group could range from $70 million to $120 million, according to people involved in the bidding process.
The price will depend largely on the value bidders place on various parts of the enterprise. For instance, several bidders appear to be counting on selling the Globe’s building on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester as part of their plan.
Other potential bidders include John J. Gormally Jr. of Gormally Broadcasting in Springfield.
His company owns TV broadcast stations, including ABC and Fox affiliates, and he publishes BusinessWest Magazine.
Boston lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan is working to put together a buyout offer that would include deep-pocketed Bostonians and an employee-ownership component. Liss-Riordan is known for representing employees in wage and workplace disputes.
Rick Edmonds, media business analyst at the Poynter Institute, said interest in buying newspapers has increased since 2009. “There’s a pretty rich pool of potential owners of papers in general’’ over the past two years, he said. And there’s little chance the Times Co. will change its mind about selling this time, he said, as the company has made clear it plans to focus on its flagship New York Times and on expanding internationally.
The Times Co. vice chairman, Michael Golden, told Globe employees at a meeting in February that he could not promise what kind of buyer the company’s board of directors would select.
He said he and the other directors have a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value.
“Within that, there is latitude,’’ Golden said. “Price is important — there’s no question about that. But price is not the sole criteria.”
For instance, a bid with cash upfront could be more attractive than another offer, he said.
Golden said the board would “get to know” the bidders before making a decision. He said, “It’s not in anybody’s interest to sell this property to somebody who’s then going to disassemble it” and try to profit by selling it off in pieces.