Noticed over the holidays: Two year-end pieces by reasonably well-informed people suggesting that if Mayor Mike (SAI 100 List No. 1) doesn’t jump into the presidential field in February or March, he should buy the New York Times. In his page-one assessment of the ailing newspaper business, former WSJ managing editor Paul Steiger raised the idea, which he couched as “pure conjecture,” but nevertheless suggests:
Assuming that New York Mayor and Bloomberg LP owner Mike Bloomberg isn’t U.S. president-elect a year from now, would he and Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. consider putting their two enterprises together?
And here’s New York Magazine columnist and CNBC host (and, yes, SAI 100 No. 19) Jim Cramer with his own scenario: NYT plummets to $10 in the coming year, despite hefty stock buybacks, and “the company accepts a buyout offer from Mayor Michael Bloomberg at $20 a share.”
Don’t be so quick to scoff: The cash is spare change for Bloomberg, who, don’t forget, already owns a small media company. I’d say the $10 share price is even money. That’s how bad it is at the Times. The Bloomberg buyout is probably a 100-to-1 shot, but may be less if he decides not to run for president and needs something else to do this year.
With advertising declines accelerating in the dead tree business, linking a journalistic treasure with non-advertising dependent media such as Bloomberg seems obvious. The problem is that for better and for worse, the Sulzberger family runs the NYT as a family company, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine them giving up control. Then again, we were told the same thing about the Bancrofts and Dow Jones for many years as well…
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