Corporate messaging between the lines

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, is rumored to be interested in purchasing the Boston Globe newspaper from the New York Times Co.

Here is what the AP reported as the New York Times Co.’s position:

“The Times Co. has said the Globe, despite its continued weak financial results, is not for sale.

Catherine Mathis, Times Co. vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement Tuesday, ‘It is our policy not to comment on potential acquisitions or divestitures. We constantly review our portfolio of properties to assess their continuing relevance to our strategy. We view the Globe as an important asset, and we have taken many steps that we believe will improve its performance.'”

Now, if the Globe were not for sale, the head communications rep for the New York Times Co. wouldn’t reference this as a “potential acquisition or divestiture.”

The AP also reports that the New York Times Co. bought the Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993 and that it is valued at between $550 and $600 million now.

With that context, it sure sounds as if the New York Times Co. would love to unload the Globe, but they are working to raise the perceived value of the company with their thinly veiled public comments that, to the average reader, seemingly say nothing. This is a good example of how companies can use media channels to communicate overarching bargaining themes and stances to prospective buyers.

Jack, not that you need my help with the negotiation, but if you want to get this over quickly, I’m thinking $601 million might do the trick.