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Hey, conservative billionaires, wanna buy a newspaper?; Update: Cash-strapped NYT borrows against building

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 8, 2008 09:07 AM

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Newspaper companies are in crisis. Layoffs. Possible closures. Some are calling for a newspaper bailout.

Investors have noticed. The market capitalization of the McClatchy Corporation — owner of 30 daily newspapers, including the Miami Herald — is less than $200 million. The market cap of A.H. Belo — owner of The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise — is $41 million.

The long-term problems plaguing the industry are well-known. Fewer eyeballs. Declining classified ad revenue. Few see a path to profitability.

Despite their serious and persistent business problems, however, newspapers still have considerable clout, especially in local and state politics. Imagine replacing liberal editors at your local rag with conservative ones. Wouldn’t it be nice if for once your local paper cast a critical eye on local recycling programs and what your kids are being taught in school?

For wealthy conservative activist/philanthropists, there may be no more cost-effective way to gain political influence than by buying up local newspapers at distressed prices. Think of the opportunity to modernize these dinosaurs and snatch up mainstream media bargains in important swing states like Colorado and Florida.

So, all you conservative billionaires out there: Step up. An opportunity like this one won’t come again.

***

Heh. Babalu Blog writes the Miami Herald’s for sale ad.

***

Update: Times Co. to borrow against building

The New York Times Company plans to borrow up to $225 million against its mid-Manhattan headquarters building, to ease a potential cash flow squeeze as the company grapples with tighter credit and shrinking profits.

The company has retained Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm, to act as its agent to secure financing, either in the form of a mortgage or a sale-leaseback arrangement, said James Follo, the Times Company’s chief financial officer.

The Times Company owns 58 percent of the 52-story, 1.5 million-square-foot tower on Eighth Avenue, which was designed by the architect Renzo Piano, and completed last year. The developer Forest City Ratner owns the rest of the building. The Times Company’s portion of the building is not currently mortgaged, and some investors have complained that the company has too much of its capital tied up in that real estate.

The company has two revolving lines of credit, each with a ceiling of $400 million, roughly the amount outstanding on the two combined. One of those lines is set to expire in May, and finding a replacement would be difficult given the economic climate and the company’s worsening finances. Analysts have said for months that selling or borrowing against assets would be the company’s best option for averting a cash flow problem next year.

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