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New York Times Trims Stake in Owner of Boston Red Sox, Liverpool

New York Times Co. sold more than half its stake in Fenway Sports Group, owner of assets including the Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club.

New York Times sold 390 of its 700 Class B units for $117 million in cash to three separate buyers, the company said in a securities filing today. It didn’t identify the buyers and said an estimated pretax gain of $64 million will be recorded in the third quarter for the transactions completed today.

Fenway Sports Group owns the Red Sox baseball team, Liverpool of the English Premier League, about 80 percent of the regional sports network that broadcasts Red Sox games and 50 percent of a Nascar racing team. The Red Sox are worth about $912 million, according to an estimate from Forbes magazine.

Times Co. said in 2009 that it had hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to sell its stake in the sports venture. Robert Christie, a New York Times spokesman, said the remainder of the company’s stake is still on the market.

The New York-based company has been struggling with declining revenue as readers of its New York Times and Boston Globe newspapers have migrated online for their news. In the first quarter, sales dropped to $566.5 million from $587.9 million a year earlier, as advertising and circulation revenue slid. In response, the company this year introduced an online paid subscription model for the New York newspaper, and plans to do the same at its Boston newspaper later this year.

New York Times fell 1 cent to $8.71 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange trading and has dropped 11 percent this year.

Fenway Sports

Fenway Sports Group is majority-owned by John Henry, a commodities hedge-fund billionaire. Henry bought the Red Sox in 2002 and the team won the World Series in 2004, ending an 86-year wait between championships. The team won the championship again in 2007.

Fenway agreed to buy Liverpool in October 2010 in a forced sale for 300 million pounds (then equivalent to $476 million) from George Gillett and Tom Hicks.

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