“We have no plans whatsoever to change our Red Sox coverage specifically, or our sports coverage in general, nor will we be asked,’’ Globe editor Brian McGrory said Saturday. “The Globe’s sports reporting and commentary is the gold standard in the industry.”
The Times Co. is selling the Globe for far less than the $1.1 billion it paid for the paper in 1993, when the business was highly profitable and the Globe fetched a record price. The Times Co., like other business owners, withdrew a large stream of cash from the Globe during its ownership — a sum at least equal to the purchase price, according to several former high-ranking Globe executives.
Henry would be taking ownership of the Globe during a period of dramatic changes in the newspaper industry, as print advertising revenues at papers nationwide continue to slide and readers increasingly want to consume news online, where revenues are improving but are still much lower than traditional newspaper advertising.
Governor Deval Patrick in a statement called the Globe “an American institution, and a vital source of information here in Massachusetts and across New England.” He noted, “John Henry has already proven his dedication to the Commonwealth with his winning stewardship of the Boston Red Sox, and I have every confidence that he will bring that same level of excellence to this new endeavor.”
Many newspaper transactions over the past decade have been tumultuous, as new owners took on massive debt at the same time the business was struggling. Major news outlets such as the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune have ended up in bankruptcy, amid deep cost cuts and layoffs.
In 2009, the Times Co. tried to sell the Globe, but it took the paper off the market because it did not fetch the price it was seeking. It received wage concessions from the newspapers’ union members and management after threatening to shutter the paper because the company was losing money.
The Globe’s financial health is stronger now, but the company is still working to turn around declining advertising revenue, a problem that persists industrywide.
Henry is known for his keen grasp of numbers and a disciplined approach to statistics and analysis that he brought to commodities futures and to the Red Sox. His models for making smart bets on the market, he told the Globe in 2004, focused on “what is, not what should be.”
After many years of investment success, the funds managed by John W. Henry & Co. began to falter after the financial crisis. Henry shut down the hedge fund firm last year, although it continues to manage his personal money.
When asked last year about whether his financial resources were diminished in such a way that it could affect his Sox ownership, Henry said, “I have no interest in reducing that. If anything, I expect it to increase over time.”
While Henry has shown himself to be a long-term investor, how he plans to run the Globe is still largely unknown.
Beth Healy can be reached at email@example.com.