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Welch confirms he's interested in buying the Boston Globe

Retired General Electric Co. chief executive Jack Welch confirmed today on the "Today" show that he is interested in buying the Boston Globe.

Welch and his wife, Suzy, were interviewed on the NBC morning TV show by host Matt Lauer about their new book, “Winning the Welch Way.”

Lauer asked about a news report last week that revealed Welch and local advertising executive Jack Connors were interested in purchasing the Boston Globe.

“Newspaper sales are down 2.8 percent, the end of September, according to the latest study, and yet the word out on the street is that Jack Welch wants to buy the Boston Globe. Isn’t that like buying an Edsel factory right now?,” Lauer asked.

“It’s one way of looking at it, but we don’t see it that way. We see all kinds of opportunity,” Welch replied. “But look, we’re in the very early stages. Matt, if we were going to buy a factory at that price, we wouldn’t have all this ink. If you fool around in the media, the ink gets… (exposed).”

When asked again if he wanted the newspaper, Welch replied, “Absolutely… under the right conditions.”

Lauer then asked, “Is it like a playpen for you guys?” making a reference to Suzy’s past media career as a former editor of the Harvard Business Review and as a reporter for the Associated Press.

“ No, no, no, no… that’s the wrong image,” Welch replied. “It’d be a fun thing, with some great people, to try and create a brand name in Boston again.”

News that Welch was interested in buying the Globe was first reported on Oct. 25, in a Steve Bailey story in the Boston Globe.

At that time, neither Welch nor Connors would comment on the matter. However, Bailey reported that executives working with investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. to analyze the potential deal said JP Morgan valued the Globe at $550 million to $600 million, well below the $1.1 billion the New York Times Co. paid in 1993.

Times Co. has refused to comment on the matter.

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