Carlos Slim Helu, No. 2 on Forbes‘ billionaires list, wants him some Gray Lady. The man who is the world’s richest person depending on the day, recently purchased 9.1 million shares of The New York Times Co. stock at $13.96 a share, giving him a 6.4 percent stake in the company.
Slim has made a very, very good living investing in seemingly distressed companies just before they begin to turn around. While most of his success has been limited to his native Mexico, Slim turned a huge profit on a 13 percent stake he owned in MCI.
So what is the man who “has never overpaid for anything” thinking buying part of a newspaper?
Well, he doesn’t seem to want to own the Times or meddle with its leadership in any significant way. This isn’t Rupert Murdoch taking over The Wall Street Journal. Analysts say that Slim merely sees an opportunity to buy an undervalued property… and he may be right.
Given the relative strength of The New York Times, both editorially and on the Web, he might be on to something. When the dust from the great newspaper shakeout settles, smart money’s on the Times to still be a giant. Just how tall that giant remains is still to be seen, but clearly Slim believes it’s more than the rest of us think.