March 28, 2008 / 10:31 PM / 12 years ago

Harbinger boosts stake in New York Times - filing

SAN FRANCISCO, March 28 (Reuters) - The largest public shareholder of The New York Times Co (NYT.N) has raised its stake to 19.8 percent, the fourth time it has bought shares since getting the publisher to support two of its nominees to its board of directors.

Harbinger Capital Partners said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it bought 150,000 Class A shares, bringing its stake to 28.3 million shares.

Based on the Times’s closing share price of $18.43 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, Harbinger’s stake is worth $521 million. The Times’s market value based on the same closing price is about $2.6 billion.

Harbinger has not said why it continues to buy shares in the Times. A spokesman for the group did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

The hedge fund, along with investment firm Firebrand partners, bought more than $500 million in New York Times stock since late December, as part of a push to get four nominees on the board of the newspaper publisher.

Firebrand’s chief, Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of business, has said the company should consider selling some of its properties and invest more in its digital growth.

Galloway also was one of two Harbinger nominees that the Times earlier this month agreed to support on an expanded board, after earlier urging shareholders to ignore a rival proxy filing from Harbinger.

Harbinger’s stake in the Times’s publicly traded shares is about the same as the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which bought the New York Times newspaper in 1896. The family controls the publisher through a separate class of shares, most of which are held in a trust. (Reporting by Robert MacMillan in San Francisco and Kenneth Li in New York; Editing by Andre Grenon)

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