The New York Times Co. has spurned a proposal from a group of prominent Boston businessmen to buy The Boston Globe.

Times Co. Chief Executive Janet Robinson wrote in a letter dated Nov. 17 that the Globe remains an important asset and the company was not interested in pursuing the sale, two executives who have seen the letter told a Globe reporter.

Robinson's letter was in response to a letter from retired General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jack Welch asking for exclusive rights to negotiate with the Times Co.

Welch could not be reached for comment and a Times Co. spokeswoman refused to comment to the newspaper.

But executives close to Welch's group, which includes Boston advertising executive Jack Connors and Boston concessionaire Joe O'Donnell, told the Globe that the three had no plans to abandon their effort.

[According to a Globe article today, "In her letter last week, Robinson said she had taken the Welch proposal to negotiate to the Times Co. board of directors, but said the company had no interest in pursuing the proposal, said the executives who had seen the letter. The letter seemed unequivocal, one executive said."]

Welch, Connors, and O'Donnell began discussing a potential bid for the Globe several months ago. An analysis done for them by investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. valued the Globe at $550 million to $600 million, about half the $1.1 billion the Times Co. paid for the paper in 1993.

The Times Co. reported last month that advertising revenue for its New England Media Group - led by the Globe - fell 10 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier, while circulation revenue fell 6.2 percent.