Rumors have been flying around for some time that billionaire former Big Apple mayor Michael Bloomberg could emerge as a white knight to save the beleaguered New York Times, but there has been no comment from either side until now. On Friday, Gabriel Sherman of New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer noted he has spoken to a Bloomberg confidant who confirms that Bloomberg has indeed made overtures regarding the purchase of the iconic newspaper.
According to Sherman’s knowledgeable source, in a conversation near the end of Michael Bloomberg’s final term as mayor, he mentioned to Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that he might be interested in buying the Times. Sulzberger apparently rebuffed the initial offer, saying that the paper was not for sale.
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More on Michael Bloomberg’s interest in the NYT
Bloomberg’s previously unreported overture to Sulzberger is probably one reason why talk of a Bloomberg-Times deal has been heard on the street after the recent layoffs at the Times. Both sides, however, deny that there have been conversations. According to Sulzberger’s spokesperson, he “can’t remember the last time he spoke with Bloomberg.”
Bloomberg clearly interested in the Times
According to the NY Mag source, Bloomberg has been and remains interested in the Times. “Mike has muttered a lot about the Times to a lot of people,” another Bloomberg adviser noted.
One of the forces behind a deal is said to be Michael Bloomberg’s political adviser and friend Kevin Sheekey. According to a knowledgeable source, back in early 2013, Sheekey held a meeting with a person close to Sulzberger and made asked about the possibility of buying the Times.
“Sheekey basically said, ‘we want to buy the company,'” is how the conversation supposedly went. “Kevin has long been a vocal enthusiast to Mike about this. Sulzberger needs to go somewhere for money. We know they have a real issue, and Mike is an obvious person he’d turn to,” said the source
Bloomberg has apparently also discussed purchasing the Times with his adviser Steven Rattner, a close friend of Sulzberger. Rattner has gone so far as to brief the Bloomberg team regarding the Sulzberger family dynamics. When asked to comment on the story, Rattner declined.