By Paul Gillin | August 3, 2013 - 10:08 am - Posted in Business News, Local news, Newspapers

John W. Henry

Four years of turmoil appear to be nearing an end in Boston with news that billionaire financier and Red Sox owner John Henry will buy the Globe for $70 million.

The deal came quickly after Henry’s bid to purchase the Globe through a partnership was rejected early this week. On Thursday, Henry said he would go it alone. Hours later, the deal was done.

The news is good for the paper and for the city, both of which struggled through an agonizing showdown between The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, and the newspaper’s unions in 2009. The Times Co. threatened to shut down the Globe at the time unless significant concessions were made, including the end of a lifetime employment deal that had been extended to more than 100 Globe employees in the 1990s.

After a two-month standoff, the unions caved in and agreed to terms that were actually less favorable than the Times Co.’s original offer. Since then the Globe has reportedly stabilized itself financially. The owners announced that the paper was for sale early this year. The $70 million sale price actually indicates some appreciation in the Globe‘s value over the past four years. When the paper was originally put up for sale in 2009, the Times Co. was reported to be considering offers of as little as $25 million. It paid $1.1 billion for the Globe in 1993, but has extracted more than the original purchase price in cash over 20 years.

Henry is somewhat of a local hero in Boston. A hedge fund manager with a brilliant analytical mind, he purchased the Red Sox in 2002 with two partners (one of which was The New York Times Co.) and put in place a new front office that led the team to its first World Series victory in 86 years in 2004. Henry also has stakes in  the New England Sports Network, the Liverpool Soccer Club and the Roush Fenway NASCAR racing team. He lives in nearby Brookline.

His decision to keep the Red Sox in Fenway Park instead of moving to a larger and more lucrative new stadium has been controversial, but the team’s on-field performance has quieted the critics. Henry has shown more of a tendency to invest than to cut costs. In a prepared statement, he said the region “needs a strong, sustainable Boston Globe playing an integral role in the community’s long-term future.”

Henry also gets Boston.com and BostonGlobe.com in the deal. Boston.com was one of the first newspaper-owned websites to feature a strong regional focus. However, it lost its uniqueness as the Globe‘s partners in the joint venture fell away over the years. The Globe relaunched Boston.com last year with a stronger Boston voice while breaking out BostonGlobe.com as the newspaper’s online flagship and its first paywalled property.

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