By Jennifer Saba
Feb 25 (Reuters) - The New York Times Co said on Monday that it was changing the name of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) to the International New York Times, putting an end to a more than 40-year-old brand that served as the hometown paper for Americans living abroad.
The move to re-brand the IHT is not entirely unexpected. The New York Times has stepped up efforts to strengthen its global recognition, and it is in the process of shedding most of its properties, including the Boston Globe.
Its new Chief Executive Mark Thompson, who began his job in November, was tapped by the Times partly for his international news experience as head of the BBC.
“We believe there is significant potential to grow the number of New York Times subscribers outside of the United States,” Thompson said in a statement.
The Times Co said on Monday its global edition would be launched later this year and that it would be edited from Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York.
“The plan is to rebrand all IHT properties as the International New York Times, but we will retain ownership of the IHT name as there may be ways to use it to complement our global brand strategy,” said a company spokeswoman.
The New York Times rolled out a digital pay model almost two years ago. Renaming the IHT will cut back any confusion as the company tries to reach new worldwide subscribers under one brand. Roughly 10 percent of the Times’ 640,000 digital subscribers are outside the United States.
The IHT website, for example, was already partly stamped with the New York Times banner because the two papers shared content.
“I can’t see many people stopping their reading of the IHT because the brand changes,” said Ken Doctor, an analyst with Outsell Research.
The New York Times is a better known brand among younger readers, said Doctor. “If you are selling new print subscriptions the New York Times is going to be more recognizable.”
The IHT has had three name changes since it was founded 125 years ago, with New York in its title for 80 of those years.
In 1967, the Times Co acquired a third of the IHT, becoming a joint owner with the Washington Post Co and the now defunct Herald Tribune.
The owners called the venture the International Herald Tribune, prompting Art Buchwald, one of the paper’s columnists, to quip, “By the time you finish pronouncing it, you’ve missed your plane!” according to a 2006 edition of the American Journalism Review.
The Times bought out the Washington Post’s stake in 2004.
The IHT, which has a global print circulation of about 227,000 copies, has served English-speaking readers and American expatriates living abroad and competes with the Financial Times and the European edition of The Wall Street Journal.