The Big Man Himself...
Billionaire acquires stake in The New York Times Co.
By Richard Pérez-Peña and Elizabeth Malkin
Thursday, September 11, 2008
NEW YORK: Carlos Slim Helú, a Mexican telecommunications billionaire, and his family have acquired a 6.4 percent stake in The New York Times Co., according to a regulatory filing.
Slim, one of the wealthiest people in the world, controls cellular and landline phone companies and has major investments in retail, construction, banking, insurance, railroads and mining. In March, Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $60 billion, behind only the $62 billion of Warren Buffet.
Slim's spokesman was not available for comment after the filing Wednesday. His primary company, Teléfonos de México, declined to comment.
The Times Co., which owns 19 newspapers including The New York Times and its global edition, the International Herald Tribune, also declined to comment. Its stock closed Wednesday at $13.96 a share, down 4 cents, giving the Slim family's 9.1 million shares a value of $127 million.
Slim has a history of buying depressed assets he can later sell at a profit, and several analysts familiar with his investments say they see the purchase of Times Co. stock in that vein.
In recent years, he has acquired stakes in several companies in the United States, where he has not been known to take a direct role. Those companies have included Saks, owner of the Saks Fifth Avenue stores; the tobacco company Altria; and the telecommunications company Global Crossing.
In 2004, he became the largest shareholder in MCI, the troubled long-distance carrier, and he made a healthy profit the next year when Verizon took over MCI.
Lately, he has turned his attention to media properties. In May, he bought a stake of 1 percent in the company that owns The Independent in Britain.
Slim's investment is the second indication in less than a year that the falling stock price of the Times Co. has attracted interest from deep-pocketed outsiders. Two hedge funds, Harbinger Capital and Firebrand Partners, bought a little more than 20 percent of the company's Class A stock and secured two seats on its board this year, promising to shake up its business strategy.
...and the Not Quite So Big Man.
The family of Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of the Times Co., owns most of the Class B shares and elects a majority of the board, giving the family control of the company. As recently as 2005, the company's Class A stock traded at more than $40 a share.
In 1990, Slim headed the group of investors that bought the Mexican government's fixed-line phone company, Teléfonos de México, which he still controls. He also controls the largest cellphone company in Latin America, América Móvil.
A PLACE IN THE AUVERGNE
International Herald Tribune
New York Times
Vacation /Business Trip Furnished Apartment in Paris