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New York Times Eyes Deal to Bolster Growth

Thursday, 01 Dec 2011 07:36 PM

New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, may make its first acquisition in more than three years.

Times Co. is interested in deals for technology or information companies to bolster digital growth, according to Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson. The company has been paying down debt and reducing costs, giving it the financial flexibility to strike deals, she said.

“We are in a position to invest organically or inorganically,” Robinson said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. She declined to name any businesses the company may consider buying.

Times Co., based in New York, has been struggling with a slide in traditional print revenue that has led to annual sales declines every year since 2006. The company introduced an online paid subscription model at the New York Times in March, helping bolster advertising and lift digital subscriptions to 324,000 at the end of September.

Times Co. wants to build on that momentum at the New York publication and its other newspapers, including the Boston Globe, which started an online paid subscription in October.

“It’s working from a revenue perspective,” said Robinson, who was joined in the interview by Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Times Co.’s last acquisition was the purchase of a Florida newspaper in March 2008, according to Bloomberg data. The company has made investments in technology startups including LibreDigital Inc. and Ongo Inc. since then.

‘Direct Relationship’

As digital subscribers increase, the company continues to work to reverse the slide in overall revenue. Total advertising revenue was down 8.8 percent in the third quarter, with print dropping 10 percent and digital falling 4.5 percent. Revenue during the quarter fell 3.1 percent to $537.2 million.

Times Co. can contend with competition from online news sources such as AOL Inc.’s Huffington Post and emerging competitors for advertising revenue such as Facebook Inc., said Sulzberger.

“We’re always going to have competitors,” he said. “As long as we keep a direct relationship with a quality audience and find the new tools to do that in this digital world, we’re going to be able to offer that quality audience to advertisers.”

Times Co. rose 2.2 percent to $7.44 at the close in New York. The stock has declined 24 percent this year.

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New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, may make its first acquisition in more than three years.Times Co. is interested in deals for technology or information companies to bolster digital growth, according to Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson. The...
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