As the New York Timeshones in on its core business—selling ads and subscriptions to the news—it’s nearing a deal to sell off About.com.
The publisher has been looking to sell the question and answer site for some time, and sources tell me it has found a potential buyer in Answers.com with a price tag of some $270 million.
Sources close to the deal tell me the transaction could close as soon as a couple weeks from now, though they caution, it could also drag on for months.
After the story was reported, The New York Times company confirmed it’s in discussions to sell About Group, saying in a release, “No definitive agreement has been reached” and that “negotiations are ongoing.”
The New York Times told investors that its efforts to turn around the struggling About.com are “gaining momentum” into the second half of the year. But the company, which the publisher bought for $410 million in 2005, has been weighing on the company: it took a $195 million write-down on About.com at the end of last quarter when it lowers its guidance on the unit.
A sale makes sense: the company still has about half a billion dollars in pension liabilities, and is continuing to pour money into the Times Media Group and international expansion. Once the deal closes the company will have about $800 million in cash, which could fuel acquisitions which fit more with its focus on premium news.
-By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
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