Two local groups offer early bids to buy Globe

Real estate could be a factor in a sale of the Globe. The newspaper occupies a 715,000-square-foot lot in Dorchester. Real estate could be a factor in a sale of the Globe. The newspaper occupies a 715,000-square-foot lot in Dorchester. (The Boston Globe/File 2000)
By Beth Healy
Globe Staff / July 31, 2009

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Two Boston groups submitted preliminary bids yesterday to buy The Boston Globe to meet a deadline set by owner The New York Times Co., according to people with knowledge of the offers.

One group is led by Boston Celtics co-owner and Bain Capital executive Stephen G. Pagliuca and Jack Connors, the chairman of Partners HealthCare and a former advertising mogul. The other is led by Stephen E. Taylor, a former Globe executive and member of the family that sold the Globe to the Times Co. in 1993 for $1.1 billion.

Under an auction set up by the Times Co., interested bidders had until yesterday to sketch out plans for the newspaper and its website,

The Pagliuca-Connors group proposed a “civic approach’’ that would involve a nonprofit foundation to help fund and run the news operation, said a person with knowledge of the plan. Under such a model, the goal would be to make enough money to support the Globe’s journalism but without the pressure to make large profits.

The Times Co. is expected to review the bids and decide which bidders to invite to the next round. Bidders would be expected to submit more specific proposals, and Times Co. management would be expected to provide more information, such as walk-throughs of the facilities and other usual steps in buying a business.

A Times Co. spokeswoman declined to comment.

It was unclear yesterday whether others who have indicated interest in the Globe intended to submit bids.

Mortimer “Mort’’ B. Zuckerman, the billionaire real estate executive who is publisher of the New York Daily News and chairman and editor in chief of US News and World Report, was out of the country and could not be reached.

Zuckerman requested the sale-offering documents from the Times Co.’s investment banker, Goldman Sachs & Co., which has been hired to oversee a potential sale, said a person briefed on Goldman’s early contacts with possible bidders.

Zuckerman launched his real estate career here and is still chairman of the firm he cofounded, Boston Properties. He also used to own the Atlantic Monthly magazine, which he sold in 1999. But Zuckerman is very much a Manhattan presence now; he lives there, has made major commercial real estate investments there, and is said by friends and colleagues to enjoy his New York media perch.

Several friends said they did not see Zuckerman being seriously interested in owning a Boston newspaper. But some said he may be mulling a purchase in part because of his real estate expertise. The Globe is located on a 715,000-square-foot lot on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. Some, including the Boston Redevelopment Authority, envision potential other uses for the site.

This section of the city, Columbia Point, is also the seaside home of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, and Boston College High School.

The BRA, in its 20- to 25-year master plan for Columbia Point, envisions the neighborhood, in one scenario, without the Globe building. The map, which the authority stresses is “conceptual,’’ has residential development and green space where the Globe now stands.

Jessica Shumaker, a spokeswoman for the authority, said the Globe has told the city it has no plans to relocate. Globe spokesman Robert Powers confirmed that. The city’s plan, a copy of which was reviewed by the Globe, also shows a scenario with the Globe building remaining.

Real estate is likely to be a component of any bids the Times Co. receives. The Globe’s property value is assessed by the City of Boston at $12.9 million this year, and the building at $34.9 million, for a total of nearly $48 million.

What potential bidders are willing to pay beyond that is uncertain, given that the Globe was projected to lose $85 million this year before recent cost-cutting.

The Times Co. has also asked that possible bidders include in their offers taking on $51 million in pension liabilities for the Globe and $8 million for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The Times Co. also owns Central Massachusetts’ largest daily and wants to package it in a Globe sale. There is a possibility the Globe and the T&G could be sold separately, said people knowledgeable about the process. Last month, the T&G reported that at least two local businessmen said they would be interested in exploring a stake in the paper.

Casey Ross of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Beth Healy can be reached at