An attempt by The Washington Post Co. to buy a controlling interest in the New York Magazine Co. failed last night, apparently ending any chance that the Washington Post Co. would take over the property.
The Post Co. had offered to buy 24 per cent of the stock in New York Magazine Co. from Carter Burden, New York socialite and city councilman, on the understanding that this would lead to a formal takeover of the entire company by The Post Co.
The Post Co. offered Burden nearly $3.2 million for his hares, but Burden did not formally respond to the offer, and The Post Co. abandoned the negotiations, issuing a formal statement that "the discussions with Mr. Burden were . . . terminated."
The Post Co.'s bid had been supported by Clay S. Felker, editor and founder of New York magazine, the most profitable of the company's three properties. (The other two are the Village Voice, a weekly tabloid published in New York, and New West, a biweekly patterned on New York and published in Los Angeles.)
Sources close to the negotiations said another bid is now expected from Rupert Murdoch, the Australian press magnate who recently bought the New York Post.
Employees of New York and the Village Voice have privately expressed concern at the fate of both journals if Murdoch takes them over. One senior employee speculated yesterday that many writers and editors on New York might quite the magazine and try to start a new one.
Uneasiness about Murdoch among the staff stems from the Australian's reputation for running "sensational" newspapers, sources said, and from the belief that Felker will have the company if Murdoch takes it over.
Many writers and editors on New York and the Voice also were unhappy at the prospect of being taken over by The Post Co., but, as one said yesterday, that was seen as "the lesser of two evils," especially because Felker would have stayed on if The Post Co's offer had succeeded. Sources in the Post Co. confirmed that Felker would have stayed on if Burden had accepted the offer.
Sources close to Felker indicated a possibility that he would take Burden to court to head off a Murdoch takeover. Though he has controlled the company since its inception, Felker only own 10 per cent of its stock.
Post Co. officials indicated that there still is a remote possibility that The Post Co. could acquire the magazine, but only if others on the board of directors of new York Magzine Co. outvoted Burden and decided to ask The Post Co. to make a new and formal takeover offer.
The Post Co. yesterday offered Burden $7.50 a share for his holdings. Shares in the company traded for about $5 earlier in the week, before trading was suspended because of the trading was suspended because of the negotiations for a possible sale.
Alan Finberg, vice president of The Post Co., said last night that the bid to buy New York "has ended unsuccessfully" as far as he is concerned.
The board of directors of New York Magazine Co. has split into three factories, according to informed sources. One is led by Felker, who founded New York magazine in 1968; one by Burden, and one by Alan J. Patricof, a financier and chairman of the company.
Personal relations between Felker and Burden are reportedly strained. Some sources speculated that Burden declined The Post Co.'s offer in part because Felker favored it.
Though new York and the Village Voice are both profitable, the company has recently posted losses because of the high startup costs of New West. Some members of the board of cized Felker for spending too much money and paying insufficient attention to balance sheets.