UPDATE 2-Henry eyes Globe in deal for NYT's Sox stake-source

Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:36pm BST

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By Ben Klayman

CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) - Hedge fund manager John Henry is looking at taking control of the money-losing Boston Globe newspaper as part of a deal to buy New York Times Co's (NYT.N) stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The Times put its 17.75 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures (NESV), which owns the Red Sox, their home field of Fenway Park and adjacent real estate, up for sale in January.

A spokeswoman for Henry, who led the group that bought the NESV assets in 2002 for $700 million including debt, referred questions to the Red Sox. Spokeswomen for the team and the Times declined to comment.

The Times acquired its stake in the ownership group at that time for an estimated $75 million. The Red Sox have won two World Series titles since then.

NESV also includes half of the Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR team and an 80 percent stake in the NESN regional sports cable TV network.

Before the markets deteriorated last year, analysts and bankers had estimated the Times stake could be worth up to $200 million. A Barclays Capital analyst last year valued it at about $166 million.

However, the stake's lack of voting rights and Henry's ability to control who buys it likely makes it far less valuable, analysts have said. Tight credit makes the possible list of buyers even shorter.

The U.S. newspaper industry has been losing readers and advertisers as more people get news online, forcing publishers to cut budgets and jobs and to sell assets.

The Times said in January that the Red Sox sale did not include the possibility of selling the Globe, which the Times bought for more than $1 billion in the 1990s.

The Times has threatened to shut the Globe unless the newspapers' unions agree to $20 million in concessions, the Globe reported earlier this month.

Separately, Tribune Co, publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, is trying to close its deal to sell the Chicago Cubs baseball team and other related assets for $900 million. (Reporting by Ben Klayman in Chicago; Additional reporting by Robert MacMillan in New York; Editing by Richard Chang, Toni Reinhold)

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