April 21, 2008 / 3:33 PM / 12 years ago

Bloomberg says not interested in newspaper business

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday dismissed media reports that he could be a suitor for the New York Times Co, saying he is not interested in getting into the newspaper industry.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during an appearance at the The Mayors Summit on Reentry and Employment in New York, February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“I am not going to go into the newspaper business,” Bloomberg said when asked by reporters at a press conference to discuss city affairs. “I am not a newspaper person.”

Bloomberg, who before becoming mayor founded Bloomberg LP, a financial news and information service, has been encouraged by people close to him to buy the New York Times Co and save the company from shareholder assaults, according to a recent report in Newsweek magazine.

Bloomberg could take the company private and “help protect the brand” with his estimated $11.6 billion personal fortune, Newsweek said in its April 28 edition, quoting an unnamed source.

Shares of the New York Times, publisher of the newspaper of the same name and the Boston Globe, were up 3 percent earlier on Monday before shedding most of the gains after Bloomberg’s public response.

The New York Post reported on Monday also that some members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which controls the Times, want to find a protector. It cited unnamed sources.

A Times spokeswoman, repeating a position frequently attributed to the Ochs-Sulzbergers, said the family believes the company’s current capital structure is the best way to protect its editorial independence.

The Ochs-Sulzberger family has controlled the Times since 1896, a structure it has preserved with a second tier of voting shares, but many holders of its publicly traded shares have accused the company’s executives of not managing it properly and have sought more power over its future strategy.

Most recently, the Times agreed to support two board nominees put forward by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Management, who would be the first outside directors at the company since it went public.

Harbinger and board nominee Scott Galloway of Firebrand Partners have urged a number of changes at the Times, including possibly selling off properties.

Thomson Reuters competes with Bloomberg in providing financial news and information.

New York Times shares were up 13 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $19.32 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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