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Bidders for Boston Globe, but not T&G; Officials mentioned as possibly having interest.

Byline: Shaun Sutner

WORCESTER - The preliminary bid deadline to buy The Boston Globe has passed without local bidders submitting proposals to buy the Globe's sister newspaper, the Telegram & Gazette, according to two people familiar with The New York Times Co.'s sale of the papers.

While several Central Massachusetts businessmen expressed interest in acquiring the Telegram & Gazette, none submitted bids by Thursday, the date The New York Times Co. had set.

However, that does not rule out a local group emerging to buy the Worcester paper if one of the potential new Globe ownership groups that submitted bids this week decides to sell it, according to the sources.

One of the sources said that among those who have recently taken "a good look" at the Telegram & Gazette, and either leading or participating in an ownership group, are Ralph Crowley, president and chief executive officer of Worcester-based Polar Beverages, and Frederick H. Eppinger, president and chief executive officer of The Hanover Insurance Group of Worcester.

A spokesman for Mr. Eppinger declined comment. Mr. Crowley could not be reached for comment. New York Times Co. spokeswoman Diane McNulty declined comment.

Meanwhile, speculation about other potential local buyers continues, with the most-often mentioned names including adult children of John W. Spillane, a well-known Worcester lawyer who died in 2007 with an estate of about $55 million from stock he owned in Commerce Insurance Inc. of Webster, which was sold to a Spanish company last year.

One of Mr. Spillane's sons, John W. Spillane, a Worcester lawyer, declined comment.

Another prominent local businessman who had expressed interest in the Telegram & Gazette, David G. "Duddie" Massad, principal owner and chairman of Commerce Bank & Trust, said yesterday that he would be receptive were he approached about participating in a deal, but that he has not taken steps to buy the paper, such as examining bid documents.

Still another local name that has come up is that of Bruce S. Bennett, former T&G publisher, who retired in 2006.

One of the sources who spoke to the T&G linked Mr. Bennett to Stephen E. Taylor, leader of one of the groups that submitted bids to The New York Times Co. earlier this week. Mr. Bennett did not return calls seeking comment. Mr. Taylor, a former Globe executive and member of the family that sold the Globe to The New York Times Co. in 1993 for $1.1 billion, was familiar with the operations of the T&G and worked closely with Mr. Bennett in the New England Media Group, which includes the Globe and the T&G.

If the Taylor group's bid is successful, the Globe could be expected to retain the T&G as an asset and Mr. Bennett could return to the T&G in some capacity, the source said.

On the other hand, if the other bidder group, led by Bain Capital executive and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen G. Pagliuca, and former advertising guru Jack Connors, chairman of Partners HealthCare, succeeds, that group would likely try to spin off the T&G to generate cash and focus on running the Globe, he said.

The other source familiar with the dealings involving the Globe sale said The New York Times Co. would either sell the T&G as part of a package with the Globe or separately.

One prominent newspaper industry figure, Dean Singleton, owner of the MediaNews chain, whose flagship is the Denver Post, recently told the T&G that he is not a potential buyer of either the T&G or the Globe.

Mr. Singleton tried to buy the T&G in 2000 when it was sold to The New York Times Co. by

Chronicle Publishing Co. for $296 million.

Contact Shaun Sutner by email at
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Title Annotation:MONEY
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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