The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT), publisher of the third-largest U.S. newspaper by circulation, is close to a deal to sell its About.com division for $270 million, according to AllThingsD, a move that would shed another non-core asset.
The buyer will be Answers.com, backed by private equity firms Summit Partners and TA Associates, according to AllThingsD.
In contrast to the company's newspaper properties, About.com provides information and advice for users that is not generally not tied to current events. A network on contributors write content, which can vary in length and scope.
The About division "continues to face a variety of challenges," said Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and interim CEO of the company, during its April shareholders meeting. It has suffered from lower traffic, partially a result of a revised Google search algorithm.
The Times paid $410 million for About in 2005. When the acquisition was announced, Times executives highlighted About's high monthly traffic of 22 million visitors and its presence in pay-per-click online advertising. About was called a "hidden gem" in the New Yorker by Martin Nisenholtz, former chief of New York Times digital, who has since retired.
But declining revenue prompted the company to take a $194.7 million writedown on the property in July, and About appears to be at odds with the Times' strategy to focus on its flagship newspaper. In the past year, the Times has also sold its regional newspaper group and its stake in Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Shares of the New York Times rose 49 cents, or 6.06 percent, to $8.57 at Wednesday's market close.