Mankato billionaire Glen Taylor has signed a letter of intent to purchase the Star Tribune.
Rumors that Taylor, best known as the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx basketball teams, would purchase the paper have been circulating for several days.
The deal with the Star Tribune’s current owner, Wayzata Investment Partners, will not be completed until a due diligence process has been completed. That process is expected to run for up to 60 days.
No price announced
Employees of the paper were told of the likely transaction at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. No price has been announced.
Given recent sales of metro newspapers, however, Taylor will pay dramatically less for the Star Tribune than the McClatchy Company paid for Cowles Media in 1998.
That year, the Cowles family sold its company to McClatchy for $1.2 billion. Just six years later, a turn-around company, Avista Partners, purchased the Strib for $530 million.
Values of newspapers, though, have continued to plummet. Last year, billionaire Jeff Bezos purchase the once-mighty Washington Post for $250 million and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry purchased the Boston Globe for $70 million.
Taylor made his fortune with a printing and marketing company, which has become the cornerstone of privately-held Taylor Corporation, which employs more than 9,000 people.
In an interview with the Star Tribune on Tuesday, Taylor said he would make no changes in the management structure at the newspaper.
Recently sold property
Since coming out of bankruptcy in 2009, the paper has reduced its debt and recently sold its property, including the Strib building and five surrounding blocks, for $38.5 million. That area is to become part of the office campus and park being developed around the new Vikings football stadium.
Taylor, 72, was a Republican state senator from 1981 to 1990. He was seen as a hero among sports fans when he stepped forward and purchased the Timberwolves in 1994, when the team appeared to be headed elsewhere. The struggles of the team in most of the Taylor-era has made him less heroic among the sporting crowd. On the other hand, the Lynx have become a model franchise in women’s professional basketball.