According to the report, the group values the Globe at between $550 million and $600 million, barely half of what the paper's current owner, the New York Times Co., paid for it in 1993. The group has not yet approached the Times Co. with an offer for the paper.
Publicly held dailies
The interest in returning the Globe to private ownership is the latest in a series of similar events affecting some of the country's largest publicly held daily newspapers, which have seen advertising and circulation slip as their long-held local monopolies have lost market share to cable, the internet and other new media.
This past summer, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News were sold by McClatchy Cos. to local investor group led by another ad man, Tierney Communications Founder Brian Tierney, for $550 million. The Tribune Co.-owned Los Angeles Times and Hartford Courant have also been linked to reported interest among wealthy individuals in their markets.
The source of the Globe-for-sale speculation is the paper's drain on larger Times Co. earnings. The company's stock price has fallen from about $40 in early 2005 to about $23 today, and the Globe's plummeting circulation and advertising results are a major factor in the stock's malaise.
'Trends remain dreary'
"Trends at the New England Media Group remain dreary," Morgan Stanley analyst Lisa Monaco wrote Monday. Ad revenue at the paper has declined 12.4% during the third quarter.
A Times Co. spokeswoman declined to comment for the Globe story, saying little other than describing the Globe as a "very important asset," which some took to mean the paper isn't for sale.
Analysts say the Times' two-tiered stock system, through which the Sulzberger family controls the company's fortunes, make it far less vulnerable to the sort of Wall Street-forced blowup that broke up Knight-Ridder Co. and has pushed Tribune Co. on to the auction block. Neither of those newspaper giants has two-tiered stock.