Red Sox owner enters $70M deal for Boston Globe

BOSTON — Businessman John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox, has entered into an agreement to buy The Boston Globe for $70 million, a massive drop from its record $1.1 billion price two decades ago.

The impending purchase from The New York Times Co. marks Henry’s “first foray into the financially unsettled world of the news media,” the Globe said early Saturday. The deal will give Henry the 141-year-old newspaper, its websites and affiliated companies, it said.

The Times announced in February it was putting the Globe and related assets up for sale four years after calling off a previous attempt to sell it. The company’s CEO said at the time selling the Globe would help the company focus attention on The New York Times brand.

Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy confirmed the sale of the Globe and other media properties to Henry. The Times said the sale includes BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, The Worcester Telegram &Gazette, Telegram.com, the direct mail marketing company Globe Direct and the company’s 49 percent interest in Metro Boston, a free daily newspaper for commuters.

Henry, in a statement published by the Globe, cited the “essential role that its journalists and employees play in Boston, throughout New England, and beyond.”

“The Boston Globe’s award-winning journalism as well as its rich history and tradition of excellence have established it as one of the most well respected media companies in the country,” Henry said.

Henry said he would reveal details about his plans for the Globe in the next few days.

The Times bought the Globe from the family of former Globe executive Stephen Taylor in 1993 for what it said was the highest price paid for an American newspaper. The Globe and other newspapers have faced difficulties in recent years as advertisers have cut spending on newspapers and moved more ads online. Still, the Globe is a journalistic institution in New England and was lauded for its coverage of the April bombings at the Boston Marathon.

A round of cost-cutting in 2009, which involved pay cuts, helped put the newspaper on better financial footing and prompted the Times to call off a planned sale. In late 2011, the Globe started charging for access to its online version at BostonGlobe.com, which helped to boost circulation revenues.

The Times company doesn’t separate Globe revenue from New York Times revenue in its financial statements. But the Globe had an average weekday circulation of 230,351 in the six months through September, up 12 percent from a year ago, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. The newspaper’s increase in digital subscriptions more than offset declines in print. But the total is still down significantly from the nearly 413,000 it boasted in September 2002.

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