We now know who the Harbinger hedge fund wants to place on the board of directors at the New York Times Company. It has joined forces with Firebrand Partners to nominate Firebrand founder Scott Galloway, Allen Morgan of the Mayfield venture capital fund, former AOL exec Gregory Shove and Kohlberg & Co. co-founder James Kohlberg.
Together, Harbinger and Firebrand say they control 4.9% of the stock of the New York Times Company. In a letter addressed to Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and CEO Jane Robinson, Galloway insists that his intention is to be an “honest broker” between the company and its shareholders.
“It has been, and remains, our intention to pursue this effort in a spirit of cooperation with the Board and management that moves beyond the old dichotomy of ‘hostile’ and ‘friendly’ and focuses instead upon our shared interest in building shareholder value. To that end, I am writing on behalf of Firebrand/Harbinger, LLC, a company formed by Firebrand Partners and Harbinger Capital Partners, who together own approximately 4.9% of the outstanding common equity of the Company, to request a meeting with you and your Board. I want to assure you that we are not pursuing a change in the dual class shareholder structure. The New York Times is a great institution controlled by the Sulzberger family and we have no illusion about, or desire to change, that fact. Our efforts are focused on how we can work with management and the Board for the benefit of all stakeholders,” Galloway said.
RBR/TVBR observation: Somehow, we doubt that the management at New York Times Company is going to be impressed by this sweet talk. “There is nothing wrong with The New York Times Company that cannot be fixed with what is right with The New York Times. We believe a renewed focus on the core assets and the redeployment of capital to expedite the acquisition of digital assets affords the greatest shareholder appreciation and creates the appropriate platform to compete in today’s media landscape,” Galloway said in his letter. Why “Arthur and Janet,” as he addresses them, need his assistance isn’t explained.