It appears Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the world’s richest men, has bought the silence of the New York Times. Slim, who bought a 6.9% stake in the Times in 2008 and in January invested an additional $250 million, has yet to read about some of his shadier activities in the Times‘ business section.
Here’s what happened.
In 2008, J. P. Morgan loaned a lot of money Mexican telecoms firm Televisa to help it buy another company. J. P. Morgan then began trying to sell the debt, but couldn’t. (As you may recall, the credit markets were just a wee bit tight that year.) After shopping the loan around for a bit, J. P. Morgan arrived at a willing buyer, Inbursa, which just happens to be run by Carlos Slim. Fine and dandy, except that Slim, as the dominant player in Mexican telecoms, is a bitter rival of Televisa, particularly its subsidiary Cablevision. Even worse for Televisa, provisions of J.P. Morgan’s sale of the loan to Inbursa would have required that Televisa disclose its future business plans to Slim’s bank. (For a detailed report of the deal, see Felix Salmon’s story for Reuters.)
Lucky for Televisa, a federal judge on Friday ruled that J.P. Morgan couldn’t transfer the Televisa debt to Inbursa, leaving Cablevision’s business secrets out of Slim’s hands for the moment.
Newsworthy, right? The story highlights back-room, collusive dealings among some of the world’s most powerful institutions and individuals. But as Slate’s James Lebetter pointed out this past Saturday, the Times hadn’t touched it. Two days later, we still don’t see any mention of the case in the Times. Looks like the New York Times Co., which last Thursday suspended its dividend for the first time in four years, is avoiding a spat with a major shareholder at a time when the company needs to raise cash.