New York Times sells, leases back part of building

NEW YORK (AP) - The New York Times Co. said Monday it gained more financial flexibility by selling 21 floors of its headquarters building in midtown Manhattan for $225 million.

The newspaper will lease back the space from the buyer, investment firm W.P. Carey & Co., under a 15-year contract.

Times shares jumped 21 cents, 5.2%, to $4.28 in morning trading.

Like other publishers, the Times company has been seeking ways to raise cash to pay off debt as advertising sales decline. The company has $350 million in loans coming due over the next two years. Total debt stood at $1.1 billion at the end of 2008.

The company slashed its dividend last fall and suspended it entirely in February, saving $133 million in annual expenses. In January, the company got a $250 million infusion from Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim, though the Times is paying Slim a hefty interest rate of 14%.

Now the Times is trying to sell its 17.8% stake in the group that owns the Boston Red Sox. Barclays Capital analyst Hale Holden has estimated that could fetch $140 million to $160 million.

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