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Continued: From farm boy to billionaire, Glen Taylor steers his own course

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 29, 2014 - 5:44 PM

“The night we talked about the newspaper, he said he always thought he was good at looking at things and making a decision without a lot of going back and forth,” Roger said. “He won’t say 100 percent have turned out right, but an awful lot have. He’s not nervous at all about it. He’s excited.”

Taylor first considered buying the Star Tribune before the 2009 bankruptcy, then displayed his trademark patience — waiting to make a tender offer after the paper emerged with less debt. He was going in on the deal with Vance Opperman, heir of a legal publishing fortune.

When the duo realized the bankrupt company’s price was nevertheless steep and they couldn’t grab enough stock to control the Star Tribune, they backed away for a few years.

“They see every deal in town, and they can pick and chose,” said Pflaum, the Minneapolis lawyer close to the newspaper deal. “It’s a much lower return than if he went out and bought another business, and that was one of the challenges for us in getting him to commit to this.”

Pflaum and Opperman made a civic pitch, urging Taylor to take a chance to keep a Minnesota news organization from the hands of an out-of-state chain.

His daughter Jean, who was skeptical of the investment, said that civic pitch seemed to sway him. He told her, “If I’m able to do it, I want to do it and make sure it remains an important part of Minnesota.”

He’s looking for the Star Tribune to improve on both its news pages and its balance sheet. But despite questions about the industry’s future, he’s encouraged about buying a newspaper with some 500,000 Sunday subscribers and more than 7 million unique monthly users across its digital platforms.

“I see a formula, businesswise, where it will pay for itself,” he said. “If I’m wrong, I will survive.”

The skeptics, pointing to intense competition for ad dollars as news organizations transition from print to digital technology, “might be right,” Taylor admitted. “But I’m telling you, I see it differently, and I guess I want to prove that, and see if it can’t be done.”

 

Curt Brown • 612-673-4767







 

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  • At a glance

    Age: 73

    What: New owner of the Star Tribune

    Home: Mankato

    Education: Studied math and physics at what was Mankato State

    Politics: Served as a Republican state senator in the 1980s, including as minority leader from 1984-86

    Car: Audi A8 with nearly 80,000 miles

    Family: Second wife, Becky Mulvihill; five grown children Terri, Jean, Taylor, Jeff and Kendahl and more than 20 grandchildren. Taylor has known Becky’s family for years and knew her husband, Jim, before he died of cancer. Their daughters eventually told Taylor, “Mom’s thinking of dating again.” They were married in 2007.

    Businesses: Taylor Corp. started as a North Mankato printing firm and in 40 years has grown from a single company with 200 employees to an array of 80 companies with 9,000 employees. Taylor also owns the Minnesota Timberwolves; one of the nation’s largest egg companies, Rembrandt Enterprises in Iowa; he’s the largest shareholder in Northland Capital investment bank and owns Envoy Medical Corp., makers of implantable hearing devices.

    Philanthropy: Taylor has donated millions to Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is a major supporter of a group in Guatemala that builds schools and trains teachers to educate indigenous children.

    Fun fact: The doors at his house are custom-made and tall so Wolves employees don’t have to duck.

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