Staci D. Kramer
Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:07 AM
Mexican investor Carlos Slim Helu, thought earlier this year to be interested in acquiring at least part of Sprint ( NYSE: S) Nextel, filed surprising notice with the SEC today that he has picked up 6.4 percent of The New York Times Company's ( NYSE: NYT) common stock. The value as of Wednesday's close: approximately $127 million, 9.1 million shares at $13.96 a share. As NYT notes, Slim has a history of investing in depressed assets that can be turned around for a profit and "several analysts familiar with his investments say they see the purchase of the Times Company stock in that vein." NYTCo certainly fits, dropping from $40-plus three years ago to the cost of a discount DVD today.
Slim ranked second on the Forbes wealthiest list this year with an estimated net worth of $60 billion. He controls Latin American cellco America Movil and Mexico's Telmex; he also controls CompUSA and was the largest shareholder in MCI when it was acquired by Verizon ( NYSE: VZ). He invested in another newspaper earlier this year, according to the NYT, picking up 1 percent of the company that owns the Independent in UK.
The billionaire becomes the latest outside to accumulate a significant amount of NYTCo stock. Earlier this year, hedge funds Harbinger Capital and Firebrand Partners started stockpiling the stock and eventually wound up with more than 20 percent and two seats on the board. Harbinger, which has also invested in Cablevision and Media General, continues to accrue shares.