Talking Points


Third bidder emerges for the Boston Herald


Third bidder emerges for the Boston Herald

A third bidder has officially come forward to challenge GateHouse Media’s plan to acquire the Boston Herald out of bankruptcy, the Herald reported Thursday. Denver-based Digital First Media, under the corporate name MediaNews Group, has put in a bid for the Herald ahead of the paper’s bankruptcy auction, set for Feb. 13, Herald lawyers confirmed to the paper. Details of the bid were not publicly available late Thursday afternoon. Last month, Revolution Capital Group, a Tampa investment firm, made a rival offer in US Bankruptcy Court in Delaware: a $3 million cash payment, up to $2 million in severance payments, and a minimum of $750,000 for employees’ paid time off. Gatehouse proposed $4.5 million in cash and at least $500,000 in assumed liabilities including paid time off. The Herald reported Thursday that Digital First has been conducting job interviews with Herald employees this week. Digital First owns several daily and weekly newspapers, including the Lowell Sun and the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg. Herald Media Holdings, the company that owns the Herald, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, saying GateHouse made the only firm bid during a pre-bankruptcy search for a buyer. When making its rival offer, Revolution Capital said it had not been contacted even though it had expressed interest in buying the Herald in 2013. — KATHELEEN CONTI


Rates continue to climb

Long-term US mortgage rates climbed for the fifth straight week amid investors’ growing concern about inflation. Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages shot up to 4.32 percent this week, up from 4.22 percent last week and the highest since December 2016. A year ago, it stood at 4.17 percent. The rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans, popular among homeowners who refinance, rose to 3.77 percent from 3.68 percent last week and the highest since May 2011. It was 3.39 percent a year ago. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Delinquencies rise as tight credit standards are loosened

Mortgage delinquencies for first-time buyers have climbed to a four-year high as tight credit standards imposed after the US housing crash start to loosen. The share of borrowers who are late on their Federal Housing Administration loans, which primarily go to first-time home buyers, rose to 10.4 percent in the fourth quarter from 9 percent a year earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. While hurricanes in Florida and Texas near the end of last year played a part, delinquencies rose in most states, according to Marina Walsh, the group’s vice president of industry analysis. Delinquencies are still historically low, yet the jump is surprising given that employment is strong and home prices are steadily increasing. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Pepsi launches its own fizzy water


In the 1980s, the big brands battled for dominance in the cola wars. Now, a new fight is emerging: the fizzy water wars. On Thursday, PepsiCo introduced Bubly, a new brand of sparkling water that comes in eight flavors, including apple, strawberry, and mango, in brightly colored cans with lowercase lettering and greetings on the pull tabs. Bubly marks the most direct attack yet on LaCroix, a brand of flavored sparkling waters that has, in recent years, seen sales soar as it developed a near cultlike devotion among millennials. — NEW YORK TIMES


Federal Reserve nominee narrowly approved by
Senate committee

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The chances that President Trump’s nominee for the Federal Reserve Board, Marvin Goodfriend, will get confirmed in the Senate took two big hits on Wednesday. The Senate Banking Committee narrowly approved the nomination along party lines, 13 to 12. That signaled Democrats will vote in force against the Carnegie Mellon professor in a vote before the full chamber, leaving little room for Republican defections. Later on Thursday, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said he will oppose Goodfriend’s confirmation. If Democrats can muster all 49 of their votes to oppose, and if Arizona’s John McCain cannot attend a floor vote, that might sink Goodfriend’s chances. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Walmart adds some tech savvy to its board

Walmart Inc., pushing to challenge Inc. in e-commerce, has added more technology savvy to its board. Sarah Friar, the finance chief at digital-payment company Square Inc., will become the 12th member of the retailer’s board, Walmart said on Thursday. The 45-year-old, who previously worked for Inc., joins fellow technology executives Marissa Mayer and Kevin Systrom. Walmart has increasingly sought out Silicon Valley know-how to help expand its e-commerce business and counter the dominance of Amazon. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


French workers protest mass job cuts

Workers at retail giant Carrefour protested Thursday at hypermarkets across France over mass job cuts. Unions staged a protest Thursday in Aix-en-Provence, southern France, marching through the aisles with red flags as shoppers pushed carts past their banners. It’s part of a string of Carrefour demonstrations around the country this month. Europe’s biggest retailer, Carrefour announced last month that it will invest 2.8 billion euros ($3.4 billion) over the next five years in online shopping and cut 2,400 jobs. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Porsche becomes the official car of the Ivy League

For a long time, the Ivy League rejected the corporate sponsorships that enriched other college athletic conferences. For far longer, Porsche showed equally little interest in tying its brand to distinctly American sports. Now the two have found each other. Porsche will become the official car of the Ivy League, starting next month, with its logo on prominent display at league championships and across its media channels. The terms of the agreement weren’t announced, but it’s the most comprehensive sponsorship in Ivy League history, according to commissioner Robin Harris. — BLOOMBERG NEWS


Grubhub to deliver for Taco Bell, KFC


As the big fast food restaurants increasingly see vast potential in pushing convenience beyond the drive-through, Taco Bell and KFC are expanding delivery nationwide in partnership with Grubhub. Yum Brands, which owns both restaurants, said Thursday that Grubhub will provide the delivery people and the technology to take online orders and make deliveries across the United States. People will be able to order through the KFC, Taco Bell, or Grubhub apps and websites. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


New York Times subscription revenue tops $1 billion

In a tough environment for journalism, The New York Times Co. continued to post significant subscriber growth, propelling the company to a healthy 2017. The company said Thursday that it added 157,000 net digital-only subscriptions in the fourth quarter of the year, pushing overall subscription revenue to more than $1 billion for the year. Subscription revenue now accounts for 60 percent of the company’s total revenue. Subscription revenue in the quarter rose 19 percent. The Times Co. has more than 2.6 million digital-only subscriptions. Digital-only subscription revenue increased 46 percent in 2017, to $340 million, and 51 percent for the quarter, to $96 million. The Times, however, continued to face challenges in print advertising. In 2017, print advertising revenue fell 14 percent, to $320 million. — NEW YORK TIMES


Arizona State gets grant to study the future of television news

Arizona State University’s journalism school on Thursday was awarded nearly $2 million in funding to research the future of television news. The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication received the $1.9 million grant from the Knight Foundation that will provide funding over three years to fund initiatives aimed at ensuring TV news companies remain competitive in broadcast and digital storytelling. Chief among the goals is the establishment of an online hub where newsrooms can see the latest strategies their counterparts elsewhere are trying out. — ASSOCIATED PRESS