Chinese recycling tycoon eyeing The New York Times?

Chinese recycling tycoon eyeing The New York Times?

By Bobby Elliott, Resource Recycling

A prominent recycling tycoon in China known for his outlandish and eccentric behavior is setting his sights on one of the world's most influential newspapers and insists he is serious about it acquiring it.

According to a Dec. 31 Reuters report, Chen Guangbiao, owner of Huangpu Renewable Resources, a construction materials recycling firm, is preparing to meet with a "leading stakeholder" of the publicly traded New York Times Co. Jan. 5 to discuss acquiring the company and its namesake, The New York Times.

"There's nothing that can't be bought for the right price," Chen told Reuters, adding that he had managed to persuade an unnamed Hong Kong tycoon to provide an additional $600 million dollars toward the potential purchase of the newspaper. Chen's own wealth was estimated at $740 million in 2012.

The New York Times Co., which has gone from owning a number of TV stations, newspapers and sports teams to just The New York Times, has a current market value of $2.4 billion. Chen told Reuters the company was probably worth closer to $1 billion, but was willing to negotiate.

Chen, who was born to an impoverished family in Anhui Province in eastern China, has made headlines not only for his rags-to-riches story, but for what many view as his rather blatant publicity stunts. Last year, Chen was found giving away cans of "fresh air" during a particularly smoggy month in Beijing. Amid rising tensions between China and Japan, he also gave away $800,000 dollars worth of cars made in China to owners of malfunctioning Japanese vehicles.

If Chen somehow manages to wrest the gilded newspaper from its current and longstanding owners, the Ochs-Sulzberger family, the recycling tycoon told Reuters he would use the newspaper to voice his own ideals of "peace on earth, protecting the environment and philanthropy."

A New York Times spokeswoman declined to comment on the rumors, but a New York Times correspondent told his Twitter followers that Chen had indeed contacted the journalist to voice his intentions for the Jan. 5 meeting to come.

If Chen is unable to acquire the newspaper company, he told Reuters he would consider buying stake in the company while pursuing the acquisition of other news outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. "As long as they have some influence," Chen explained, "I'm still willing to consider buying lesser media outlets."

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