Will Murdoch Soon Own the Times?

Michael Wolff, author of the “The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch,” believes the News Corp. CEO will soon make a bid for The New York Times.

Much like Murdoch’s, arguably, hostile takeover of the Wall Street Journal, Wolff sees a similar situation occurring with the Times in the near future.

The 157-year-old newspaper company, owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, has increasingly struggled to turn over a profit in recent years. The Times reported a net loss of $106.3 million last quarter, down from a meager net gain of $13.5 million the year before.

Meanwhile News Corp. — which has struggled in its own right to make new money — is sitting on a fat bundle of cash: $5 billion, just under the amount it paid for its controlling stake in Dow Jones, back when media companies were more valuable to prospective buyers. If News Corp.’s profits were to pick back up, that money would become more viable for a new acquisition.

According to a recent Reuters article, Wolff “doubts that Murdoch approached the Times, but Murdoch would try to beat other offers that arise first.”

If that scenario proves true, News Corp. would increase its dominance over the global media landscape with another large swoop — perhaps its largest yet. The New York Times, which owns several other newspapers including the International Herald Tribune, is the largest largest metropolitan newspaper left.

Or is Wolff’s prophecy simply a gimmick to sell more copies of his book?

According to a Times article published last month, “Mr. Murdoch has raised objections with Mr. Wolff and his publisher about portions of the book.”

Times will tell.

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