updated 11/22/2006 4:31:06 PM ET 2006-11-22T21:31:06

The New York Times Co. has reportedly told a group of prominent Boston-area businessmen including former General Electric chief executive Jack Welch that it is not interested in selling The Boston Globe.

The Globe said in a story Wednesday that Janet Robinson, chief executive of the New York media company, wrote in a letter dated Nov. 17 that the Globe remains an important asset and the company was not interested in pursuing the sale. It cited two unidentified executives who have seen the letter.

Robinson's letter was in response to a letter from Welch asking for exclusive rights to negotiate with the Times company.

Welch could not be reached for comment and a Times spokeswoman refused to comment to the newspaper.

But executives close to Welch's group, which includes Boston advertising executive Jack Connors and Boston concessionaire Joe O'Donnell, told the Globe that the three had no plans to abandon their effort.

Welch, Connors, and O'Donnell began discussing a potential bid for the Globe several months ago. An analysis done for them by investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. valued the Globe at $550 million to $600 million, about half the $1.1 billion the Times Co. paid for the paper in 1993.

The Times Co. reported last month that advertising revenue for its New England Media Group — led by the Globe — fell 10 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period a year earlier, while circulation revenue fell 6.2 percent.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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