Citing family disputes that have led to the sale of several major newspapers in recent months, The New York Times Co. yesterday took steps that analysts said assure that the Ochs family will continue to control it through at least the next generation.
Family feuds have divided several of the nation's prominent newspaper families recently, including the Cowles of Des Moines, the Pulitzers of St. Louis and the Binghams of Louisville.
Leonard Harris, a spokesman for The Times Co., said the family action was triggered by "events that have taken place in other newspapers in other cities and with family-owned corporations."
The Ochs Trust owns 80 percent of the outstanding Class B stock, the voting shares that control The Times Co. The trust was established by the late Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs for the benefit of his daughter Iphigene Ochs Sulzberger and her descendants. The trust will expire when she dies.
Her four children, including Times Co. Chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, have agreed to place the Class B stock they inherit in new trusts and put restrictions on the sale of that stock to anyone outside of the family.
If a family member wants to sell Class B stock, the stock must first be offered to the other three trusts. If the trusts do not want it, The New York Times Co. itself has the option to purchase the stock. The other trusts or the parent company would buy the class B stock at the current price of Class A stock -- which is publicly traded but elects only 30 percent of the board of directors.
Any stock that another trust or the parent company failed to buy then would have to be converted into Class A stock before it could be sold outside the family, according to the agreement announced yesterday.
Chairman Sulzberger said, in a statement, that the agreement is "consistent" with the wishes of his grandfather, who wanted The New York Times, the company's flagship, to be maintained as "an independent voice."