NYT sells partial stake in Boston Red Sox parent

BY foxsports • April 1, 2010

The New York Times Co. has sold a small piece of a company that owns the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park and other sports properties.

Henry McCance, chairman emeritus of venture capital firm Greylock Partners, is buying a 1.2 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures LLC, leaving the Times Co. with 16.6 percent. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Times Co. said it is still looking to sell the rest. It has been racing to cut costs and raise cash as the newspaper business struggles.

The sale announced Thursday won't have a major impact on the company's finances. But unloading the rest of the stake could help the Times Co. pay down its debt, which stood at about $769 million at the end of 2009. With revenue falling across the industry, big debts have landed several other newspaper publishers in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Barclays Capital analyst Hale Holden had valued the Times Co.'s entire stake in New England Sports Ventures at $170 million to $190 million.

The company bought the stake in 2002 for $75 million. It hired Goldman Sachs more than a year ago to help sell it.

Messages left with Greylock Partners seeking comment from McCance were not immediately returned.

The Times Co., which earned $19.9 million last year on revenue of $2.4 billion, dropped its effort to sell The Boston Globe last year after winning concessions from the newspaper's unions to bring labor costs down. Along with its namesake newspaper, the company also publishes the International Herald Tribune and smaller regional dailies.

The overall market rebound and an easing slump in advertising sales have helped the shares of the Times Co. more than double over the past year. Times Co. shares fell 6 cents to close Thursday at $11.07.

At least one major shareholder has been selling the stock. The hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, which owned nearly 20 percent of the company's publicly traded class A shares until last year, sold 1.5 million shares last week for $11.20 each, according to a securities filing. That brought its stake down to about 12 percent from 13 percent.

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