Activist NY Times investors done for now - adviser

NEW YORK Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:51pm EDT

NEW YORK Oct 30 (Reuters) - Shareholder pressure on the New York Times Co (NYT.N) has eased after a prominent activist investor sold his stake, and the company is likely to remain publicly traded, an adviser to the publisher said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, fund manager Hassan Elmasry unloaded Morgan Stanley Investment Management's 7.2 percent stake in the Times. Elmasry had spent two years trying to get the Times to change its share structure to give other investors equal voting power to the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which has run the Times for more than a century.

"I think you've now seen the end of at least this phase of activity with Morgan Stanley selling their stock," said Steven Rattner, managing partner at Quadrangle Group LLC and an adviser to Times Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Elmasry also sought other management changes, including separating the role of chairman from that of publisher, saying that the company was poorly run.

Rattner, who made his comments at the Future of Business Media Conference in New York, also said that the Times likely will remain a publicly traded company.

"I think the family has stated very clearly at every step of the way their belief that their ownership of The New York Times is a very sacred trust and one they intend to maintain," Rattner said. "There has never been the slightest hint or suggestion that I know of of anything other than that."

The Times, like other U.S. newspaper publishers, has been growing its online revenue while coping with poorer advertising revenue at its print papers, including the Boston Globe and several smaller daily papers around the United States.

While the company's ad revenue rose in the third quarter, it is unclear whether that trend will continue.

Some experts have said that the company should consider going private to escape the ire of shareholders, a move that at least one other publisher, Tribune Co TRB.N, is taking.

New York Times shares fell 64 cents, or 3.12 percent, to close at $19.86 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan)

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