September 11, 2008 / 12:28 AM / 9 years ago

Mexico's Slim owns 6 percent of New York Times

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Mexican telecommunications tycoon and billionaire Carlos Slim has bought a 6.4 percent stake in The New York Times Co, the newspaper publisher said on Wednesday.

Slim, the world’s second-richest man according to Forbes magazine, is the second prominent investor this year to buy a piece of the U.S. company, which publishes The New York Times, the Boston Globe and smaller daily newspapers.

Asked why he bought the stake, Slim, who has U.S. assets in retail, told reporters in Mexico City, “It’s financial,” indicating he was not making a strategic move into U.S. media.

He declined to say how much he paid or whether he would increase his stake.

Slim -- 68, a son of a Lebanese immigrant, and a rare billionaire who eschews private jets, yachts and other executive trappings -- has an estimated net worth of $60 billion, according to Forbes, That is behind only Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett’s $62 billion.

Telecoms aside, Slim’s far-flung business empire includes department stores, a banking group, restaurants and manufacturers of cigarettes, floor tiles and car parts.

Slim’s telephone company Telmex, a former state-owned monopoly, has 90 percent of Mexico’s 20 million fixed phone lines. His America Movil is Latin America’s biggest mobile phone company with operations from Mexico to Brazil.

A Times spokeswoman declined to comment on the stake, which was disclosed in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Times was the focus of another high-profile investor earlier this year. U.S. hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners amassed a stake about equal to the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which controls the Times through a special class of shares.

That effort was led by Phil Falcone at Harbinger, who eventually got two of his candidates onto the board as part of a settlement to avoid a proxy battle.

Harbinger had sought changes at the Times to get it to deal with its eroding share price, which has fallen as the company’s revenue from advertising has dropped and readers turn to the Internet to get news.

Additional reporting by Chris Aspin in Mexico City; Editing by Gary Hill

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