MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has signed a letter of intent to buy the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Now, one of Minnesota’s richest men has 60 days to put together the deal for Minnesota’s largest newspaper.
Details of the offer weren’t announced, but in an interview with the Star Tribune, Taylor said he had made a cash offer on his own, with no other investors. He said he expected the deal to close in May.
Forbes estimated Taylor’s net worth to be $1.8 billion. Privately held Taylor Corp. has 80 subsidiaries and 9,000 employees working in a range of printing and marketing businesses. Taylor, 72, also owns the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx.
Seventy-five percent of the Star Tribune is currently owned by Wayzata Investment Partners and GE Capital.
Taylor, who told WCCO-TV he is confident the deal will go through, says he is not planning any significant changes at the paper.
“What they have done, because of the bankruptcy, is jumped out in front and made the changes that are necessary to be competitive and have a leadership team that will keep them out in front,” Taylor said.
Taylor was a Republican state senator for eight years, but says his politics will not influence the newspaper’s coverage.
“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think that people that worked with me over at the legislature will know that I am a person who can take in many different viewpoints.”
Since emerging from the 2009 bankruptcy, the Star Tribune has tried to reposition itself in a digital age with extensive coverage on its website and charging for internet access. Recently, it sold land near its downtown headquarters for $38 million to make way for an office tower that will adjoin the new Vikings stadium.
WCCO-TV’s Esme Murphy asked him about the price of this deal.
“The answer to your question is yes, there is a price, but no I am not going to tell you what it is, but thanks for asking,” Taylor said.
Because the sale is a transaction between two private parties, it may not be made public.
Publisher Mike Klingensmith said Taylor’s offer “provides us with a long term owner that is locally based in our community. I think both of those things are important.”
He added: “I think the local long-term nature of his ownership will be a positive thing for both our company but also for the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota as well.”
One employee, Mike Orth, said he’s excited about the possibility of Taylor’s ownership.
“It’s going to be a great place for us to work with that ownership,” he said.
Other employees, who didn’t want to be identified, said they are cautiously optimistic and glad that it’s a local guy as opposed to a large newspaper chain based out of town.
Taylor said he will not serve on the board or take an active role in the paper’s day-to-day management.
Taylor first made a run at a minority share in the Star Tribune in 2009, saying he thought it was important to keep community ownership. In his interview with the Star Tribune, Taylor said it’s the only media company he is pursuing.
Taylor would be the latest billionaire to acquire a major American newspaper. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post last year for $250 million.
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