By: Joseph Gelman| Posted: November 9, 2014 6:30 PM
In a spirited public discussion between two of America’s richest men and largest political donors, at the IAC [Israeli American Council] conference in Washington DC, multi-billionaire Sheldon Adelson openly challenged his more left-leaning counterpart and friend, billionaire and media mogul Haim Saban, to jointly purchase the New York Times away from the Sulzberger family, because of the Times’ open hostility towards Israel.
The subject came up in a pubic discussion about media bias and Israel. Saban marveled at how Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased the Washington Post for a mere $250 million, which Saban called “bupkis,” and that he was sorry that he did not try to buy it himself.
Do you think Lebanese-Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim (net worth approaching $70 billion) regrets the $200 million he put up to financially rescue the New York Times Co. in 2008? He now owns 17% of the company’s stock.
At that point Adelson pounced on Saban and challenged him on the spot to join with him to buy the New York Times from the Sulzberger family.
Saban expressed an openness to the idea, but was concerned that the Sulzberger family would not sell. Adelson dismissed that concern, “You pay significantly more than it’s worth, then the non-family shareholders have the right to bring a suit between the real value and what’s been offered.”
The issue they’re talking about is, I believe, that the New York Times Co. has both voting and nonvoting shares, with the Sulzberger family dominating ownership of the voting shares.
For the Sulzberger family’s interesting ethnic, religious, and ideological history, which included converting to Episcopalianism at one point, see here.
Adelson suggested that he and Saban team up and make them an offer that cannot be refused; “There’s only one way to buy it, money…. but it’s not going to be one of those deals where I put up 10 times more than you” Adelson said.
Saban expressed an interest… and then the panel moved on to other subjects.
Haim Saban and Sheldon Adelson together are worth well over 40 billion dollars and are more than financially capable of buying the troubled New York Times. The mere suggestion of such a move has put traditional liberal outlets like the Daily Beast into a virtual meltdown. Clearly, this discussion will continue in a more private setting. The discussion was dead serious in tone and was video taped in front of an audience over 700 people at the Washington Hilton today (Nov. 9) at around 12:00 noon.