New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, plans to pay back a $250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim three years ahead of schedule.
The company intends to repay the loan by January 2012 instead of January 2015, according to Abbe Serphos, a Times spokeswoman. The London-based Sunday Telegraph reported the timing earlier, and said Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson may seek digital acquisitions once debt levels fall, though she didn’t name possibilities.
Robinson said last month that she aims to expand the digital business to help spur growth. Times Co.’s sales have fallen for three straight years, hurt by increasing competition from websites and News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, which debuted a new New York City local section about five months ago.
The shares rose 11 cents to $7.85 in New York Stock Exchange trading on Oct. 1. They have dropped 36 percent this year, compared with a 2.8 percent increase in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Times Co. forecast third-quarter sales that fell short of some analysts’ projections on Sept. 22. The company, which also owns the Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, said circulation revenue would drop about 5 percent in the period.
The company borrowed $250 million from Slim’s Banco Inbursa SA and Inmobiliaria Carso last year, buying time to sell assets and refinance existing debt. The lenders received six-year notes with a coupon of more than 14 percent and detachable warrants. The warrants expire in January 2015.
Slim spokesman Arturo Elias didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
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