The Sulzberger’s would rather sell to Bashar Assad then to any Conservative.
by Jonathan Berr
Billionaire Donald Trump wants it known that he really, really wants to buy The New York Times (NYT) even though the paper is not for sale — and even if it were, the Sulzberger family, which has owned it for more than a century, probably would never sell it to him in a billion years.
“I have watched Mr. Trump over the years navigate much tougher acquisitions,” writes Michael Cohen, a Trump spokesman. “Mr. Trump is so smart and so rich that if he wants it, he will get it. If Mr. Trump elects to purchase the NY Times, commits his time and resources, there is nothing he can’t do.”
Shares of the company, which also owns the Boston Globe, were barely budging on the news, indicating that Wall Street isn’t holding its breath for a deal to happen. A spokesperson for the Times couldn’t immediately be reached.
It’s unclear exactly how much progress, if any, Trump has made in buying the newspaper company. New York magazine, which broke the story, says “Trump has engaged in more than one meeting to discuss how he might buy the Grey Lady.” If Trump does make a credible offer for the paper, the company’s board of directors would have a fiduciary duty to consider it.
Trump has had a contentious relationship with the company’s flagship newspaper for years. In 2011, he lost a libel case against Tim O’Brien, a former reporter and editor for the paper, who argued in a book that the 56-year-old wasn’t really a billionaire. O’Brien, now with The Huffington Post, couldn’t immediately be reached. Many at the paper, including columnist Gail Collins, have mocked Trump’s claims that President Obama may not have been born in the United States.
If Trump is successful — and that’s a big if — he would have a tough time convincing employees and advertisers that he wouldn’t use the paper to promote his own political agenda. In fact, some newspapers around the country have been snapped up by wealthy business owners with their own motives. Real-estate developer Doug Manchester, for example, bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2011 and turned the paper into what Media Matters for America calls “a corporate shill.”
Trump’s interest is come at a tough moment for The New York Times, which has recently offered buyouts to newsroom staff to cut costs as it struggles to reinvent itself in the digital age. The deadline for accepting these offers is Thursday, according to a story in the paper. Wall Street isn’t expecting the struggles to end anytime soon. Revenue in the December quarter is expected to fall 11%, according to analysts’ estimates. Profit is expected to be 31 cents, down from 45 cents a year earlier.
Wall Street sees better times ahead for the venerable publisher, whose digital strategy has gained traction. The average 52-week price target on the stock is $9.58. about 10% higher than where it currently trades. Shares of the publisher have surged more than 13% over the past year.