ValueAct activist investor participates in The New York Times

ValueAct, an activist investor that has bought stakes in major companies including Microsoft, Reuters and 21st Century Fox, said Thursday that it had bought nearly 7 percent of The New York Times Company’s common stock and would push for changes in some of its shares. publishing business. operations.

The purchase of the shares, which was made public in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, makes ValueAct one of The Times’ largest shareholders, along with Vanguard and BlackRock Fund Advisors. The Times is controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, which limits the influence outside investors have on the company.

Shares of The Times, down 27 percent so far this year, rose more than 10 percent on news of the ValueAct investment, first reported by Bloomberg.

In a letter to its investors on Thursday, ValueAct said it had conducted research showing many consumers were unaware that The Times sells a subscription package to its products, which include news, games, a cooking app and sports publication The Times. Athletic. ValueAct said that created a potential growth opportunity.

“This is an opportunity that we believe the administration must urgently pursue, as it is the biggest lever to accelerate growth, deepen the NYT’s competitive moat, and ensure the long-term strength and stability of the platform,” ValueAct said in a statement. the letter, according to a person with knowledge of its contents.

The Times now has 9.17 million paid subscribers. It aims to sign 15 million by the end of 2027.

The Times Company has a dual class share structure. The shares used to elect the majority of the company’s board, called Class B, are owned by a trust of the Ochs-Sulzberger family. The family has controlled the business since Adolph Ochs bought it in 1896. The 13-person board is chaired by AG Sulzberger, who is also the publisher of The Times.

Times spokeswoman Danielle Rhoades Ha said in a statement that members of the company’s management team have held discussions with ValueAct to exchange views.

“The board and management team will continue to make decisions that we believe are in the best interest of the company and all of the company’s shareholders,” Ms. Ha said in the statement.

Unlike other activist investors, such as Carl Icahn, who made his name with harsh court battles, ValueAct has a history of investing in companies over a long period of time and working with management behind the scenes. He often looks for companies, like Adobe and Microsoft, that are changing their business models.

Activist investors have been increasingly willing to take stakes in companies with dual-class structures such as The Times. Activist firm Elliott Management unveiled a position at social media company Pinterest in August, and activist firm Blackwells Capital pushed to remove Peloton CEO John Foley this spring.

The Times has dealt with activist investors before. In 2008, hedge funds Harbinger Capital Partners and Firebrand Partners told the company that they intended to appoint four independent directors to the publisher’s board. He eventually struck a deal with the investment firms, offering two seats on the board.

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