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SUITORS LINE UP FOR NYT CO.'s BOSTON TITLES And shares start trading in 'new' News Corp.: up, down, then up.

It portends to be a fateful week in the newspaper business, as bids for the New England operations of The New York Times Co. -- including the Boston Globe, and the Worcester Telegram-Gazette -- are set to close on Thursday and Friday is the last day of News Corp. as an entertainment-and-publishing business, with the company reborn next Monday as a publishing-only concern.

In Boston, one of the leading groups expected to make a bid on The Times Co. operations seems to have bowed out: the Globe reported on Thursday that The Kraft Group -- owners of the New England Patriots franchise of the National Football League -- have decided to not submit a bid.

In a Wednesday article in the Globe, the paper had identified "at least eight" potential suitors for the operations; the Thursday announcement presumably cuts that back to seven.

Among those expected to make bids for the Globe and other area assets are a group led by former magazine executive Jack Griffin -- who has once aligned with the 2100 Trust LLC, which ultimately ended up buying Southern California's Orange County Register -- and the cousins Ben and Steve Taylor, members of the family that sold the Globe to The Times Co. in 1993 for $1,100 million.

Rick Daniels, once the president of the Globe who went on to have a successful career running GateHouse Media's Boston-area publications, leads another group, which includes Boston Post Partners, a hedge fund run by Heberden Ryan, who actually started this ball rolling by putting a $75 million offer on the table last fall.

Times Co. management hired the investment bank Evercore Partners and put the operations up for bidding after Daniels' overture in order to avoid any potential shareholder lawsuits.

Another potential suitor identified by the Globe is the Los Angeles-based private equity firm Revolution Capital Group, which paid $9-1/2 million for Florida's Tampa Tribune last fall.

A fourth bidder, said the Globe, would be "Papa Doug" Manchester, a real estate developer and hotelier who bought the San Diego Union-Tribune in November 2011 for about $100 million and the North County Times of Escondido, Calif., last September for $12 million.

The Globe identified three other bidders, including Najafi Cos. of Phoenix, Ariz., Gormally Broadcasting LLC of Springfield, Mass., and Boston lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan.

In other Globe news, the paper and the Boston Herald said last week they had signed a 10-year agreement for the Globe to print and distribute all copies of the Herald. The two signed a deal last year for the Globe to handle about one-third of the Herald's daily printing and this revised deal switches over the rest.

The deal goes into effect July 1. The loser in this deal is Dow Jones & Co., the division of News Corp. that has a major production facility in Chicopee, Mass., that had handled much of the Herald presswork since 2008.

It is an inauspicious beginning for the "new" News Corp., whose shares began preliminary trading last Wednesday; News will split into two this Friday and separate shares of the publishing-only company will begin trading next Monday.

Trial shares of "new" News opened on Wednesday at $15.28 and immediately gained as much as 4-1/2 percent in early trading, closing that afternoon at $15.80. They then dipped three percent on Thursday, gained two percent on Friday and lost another fraction of a percent today, closing at $15.53.

Reuters reported that Gabelli & Co. analyst Brett Harriss sees the new company's shares trading in a $20-$24 range.

"New" News Corp. will include the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, a group of eight dailies in five states that it has on the sales block, the London newspapers The Times and The Sun and many large titles in Australia, including the Daily Telegraph in Sydney and the Herald Sun in Melbourne.

For those willing to understand the future of the newspaper business is 10-percent margins (as opposed to the 35-percent margins of the 1980s and 1990s), there are potential gains in owning newspapers and even newspaper stocks.
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Geographic Code:1U1MA
Date:Jun 24, 2013
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