As SW reported two weeks ago, the Seattle Times lost big on the recent sale of its Maine newspapers, more than $170 million. Today, on Crosscut.com, Bill Richards ups that estimate to "about $200 million." But it could go even deeper, says Richards:
An undisclosed piece of the transaction could wipe out even the modest [a net $30 million or so] amount the Times Co. received for the Maine newspapers and leaves the Times responsible for making up a multi-million-dollar shortfall in the pensions of hundreds of Blethen Maine employees. During the pre-sale negotiations, Maine Today Media officials insisted that one of Blethen Maine's major liabilities--its underfunded pension plan -- remain on the Times books rather than being absorbed by the chain's new owners.
And as SW mentioned, in its reporting on the sale the Times used a $213 million figure as the price the company paid for the Maine papers a decade ago. We suggested that might be a typo, perpetuated in a couple of news stories, since a 2003 Times story stated the price was $233 million. The $233 million figure is the one used today by freelancer Richards, and he should know - having written that 2003 piece for the Times.