MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Timberwolves owner and printing company billionaire Glen Taylor has signed a letter of intent to buy the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the newspaper announced Tuesday.
Details of the cash offer weren’t announced, and Taylor wouldn’t elaborate in an interview with The Associated Press. He said he expected the deal to close in May following due diligence.
“I think it’s going to be a good business decision and also because it’s a Minnesota type of asset,” Taylor said. “I just think it’s something we can do very well in the state and get it back to private ownership and I think the challenge of it is something that just excites me.”
The sale would put Minnesota’s largest newspaper in the hands of one of the state’s richest men. 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.
Like many U.S. newspapers, the Star Tribune endured difficult financial times in the past decade. It fell into bankruptcy, emerging in 2009 under the ownership of its lenders. Wayzata Investment Partners and GE Capital together own about 75 per cent of the Star Tribune.
The newspaper is in the midst of another transition. It recently sold much of its downtown real estate to make way for a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, and the paper is planning to move to another downtown location.
Taylor first made a run at a minority share in the Star Tribune in 2009, saying at the time he thought it was important to keep community ownership. Taylor said Tuesday that didn’t happen because he didn’t see a path to full ownership.
“Today I’m in a position where I’m asking for, I’ll have 100 per cent of the stock,” Taylor said. “That’s the way I run things.”
In a statement, Publisher and CEO Michael Klingensmith said selling to a long-term, local owner was the best situation for the Star Tribune. Taylor promised to be just that.
“I’m not a buyer and seller, and people who have been around me for a long time know that,” he said.
He said he wasn’t pursuing any other newspapers in any other states. He also said he planned to keep current management in place. Taylor did say he thinks he can help the Star Tribune improve its marketing by drawing on expertise from some of his other companies.
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.