It is highly unlikely that billionaire Maurice “Hank” Greenberg will succeed in wresting control of the New York Times from the Sulzberger family, although his effort draws much-needed attention to the disastrous tenure of publisher Arthur “My Apologies” Sulzberger, Jr. The New York Post explained today:
Sources said Greenberg views the Times, which has a market cap of $3.3 billion, as a top-flight brand but one with an “artificially depressed” stock price.
Times shares have plunged almost 15 percent in the last year, a drop that has put enormous pressure on Chairman Arthur “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr., the family scion who has been at the helm of the company since 1997.
The stock is well off its 52-week high of $28.98 that it hit in February. In November 2004, Times shares traded above $40 before they began their free-fall.
The NYT has a two-tiered stock structure, and the owners of the Class B shares – the Sulzbergers – control a majority of the company’s board. The Class B shares are not publicly traded, so it is unclear how Greenberg would acquire control of the company, even if he acquired all of the Class A shares.
Nevertheless, he is correct to say that the NYT stock price is “artificially depressed.” Anyone who could successfully take over the company and replace the current management with a competent team could make a fortune. I just don’t see it happening.