The New York Times Co. is moving to diffuse its increasingly hostile confrontation with a pair of activist hedge funds, agreeing to meet with their nominees for the company’s board.
The Gray Lady said it will meet with the four nominees proffered by Harbinger Capital Partners and Firebrand Partners “within the next week or so,” Reuters reports. The hedge funds had complained that, in spite of being the Times Co.’s largest shareholders with a 19% stake, the publisher had refused to meet with their nominees. The Times last week urged shareholders to reject any proxy solicitation from Harbinger.
Harbinger and Firebrand want the Times Co. to focus on its digital media business. The hedge funds have said they are not interested in changing the company’s dual share class system, which gives the Sulzberger family effective control.
Harbinger’s other publishing target, Media General, is proving less pliable.
The Richmond, Va.-based company, which publishes the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune, is urging its shareholders to reject Harbinger’s nominees to its board.
“The board does not believe this is in the company’s best interest and strongly urges you not to sign any proxy cards sent to you by Harbinger,” it wrote in its preliminary proxy statement.
Like the Times Co., Media General boasts a dual-share structure giving the Bryan family control of its board. Harbinger owns a 20% stake of that media company.
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