With DOJ's Antitrust OK, NYT Co. Closes Purchase of 'Metro Boston'

By: (AP) The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe, has completed its purchase of a 49 percent stake in the free commuter tabloid Metro Boston.

The $16.5 million deal had drawn antitrust objections from the rival Boston Herald and also came amid controversy over racial slurs by executives of Metro's parent company, but it was not blocked by the U.S. Justice Department.

After the purchase was announced Jan. 4, the Herald argued the deal would hurt Boston readers and advertisers. The Times contended that Boston is a highly competitive newspaper market that would not be harmed by the purchase.

The deal's closure was announced Thursday after the Justice Department ended its review and concluded that no action was warranted, agency spokeswoman Gina Talamona said.

Herald publisher Patrick J. Purcell said his newspaper disagreed with the decision.

"Once a decision like this is made it's hard to put the genie back in the bottle later on," Purcell said. "But that's fine. We love competition, and we're going to continue to compete and fight aggressively in the market."

Globe publisher Richard Gilman said his newspaper was "convinced that this partnership will be good for readers, advertisers, and for the community. The Metro has set high standards for its conduct, and we are convinced they are well along in achieving those standards."

The Globe will provide stories to the Metro, which will otherwise maintain editorial independence. Metro Boston, which debuted in 2001, claims 300,000 daily readers -- many of them commuters who pick up the paper at subway and commuter rail stations -- and in 2004 generated about $10 million in revenue.

Metro USA is a division of Metro International, which publishes 42 free newspaper editions in 16 languages. Metro International is based in Europe.

After the Times' plans to buy a stake in Metro Boston were announced, two Metro executives resigned for making racial slurs.

Steve R. Nylund, who used a racial epithet to refer to blacks during a corporate function in Italy in 2003, resigned as president of Metro's North American subsidiary, Metro USA Inc. He remained as executive vice president of Metro International Inc., without operational responsibilities.

Hans Holger-Albrecht, a director who used a racial slur at a different corporate gathering, resigned from the Metro International board.

The company later agreed to form a community advisory board and a diversity and sensitivity training program for its employees.


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