Seeking Digital Growth, New York Times Eyes First Acquisitions in Three Years

Hasn't Made an Acquisition Since Buying a Florida Newspaper in 2008

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The New York Times Co. may make its first acquisition in more than three years.

Janet Robinson, CEO of The New York Times Company
Janet Robinson, CEO of The New York Times Company Credit: NYT

The Times Co. is interested in deals for technology or information companies to bolster digital growth, according to CEO 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," Ms. Robinson said in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. She declined to name any businesses the company may consider buying.

The Times Co. 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.

"It's working from a revenue perspective," said Ms. Robinson, who was joined in the interview by Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

The company wants to build on that momentum at the flagship publication and its other newspapers, including the Boston Globe, which introduced a gated website with limited advertising in October but continues to operate the free, more ad-heavy Boston.com.

The 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.

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

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

"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."

-- Bloomberg News --

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