On The Block

The New York Times Co. (NYSE: NYT) will weigh the option of selling The Boston Globe this summer, and it plans to seek bids with the help of Goldman Sachs & Co., which was hired as an adviser. The Boston Newspaper Guild hopes to obtain a stake in The Boston Globe if the New York Times decides to sell the business. For the first quarter, New York Times’s revenue fell about 19 percent to $609 million from $747.9 million a year earlier as advertising revenue dried up by 27 percent.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) is considering the sale of its stake in an animal health venture called Merial or a similar business at Schering-Plough Corp. (NYSE: SGP) ahead of the proposed $41.1 billion combination of the two pharmaceutical companies. Merial is a 50/50 joint venture with Sanofi-Aventis SA. The business generated sales of more than $2.6 billion in 2008 and holds more than 14 percent market share worldwide, according to Merial’s Web site. For 2008, Merck’s net income more than doubled to $7.8 billion from $3.3 billion a year earlier, despite a 1 percent decrease in sales to $23.9 billion.

Russ Berrie and Co. (NYSE: RUS) plans to explore its strategic options. The Wayne, N.J.-based company’s main focus will be on improving its infants and juvenile business. It also intends to review all other alternatives, such as a merger, acquisition, strategic partnership or the sale of the entire company. For the first quarter, Russ Berrie’s net income fell to $1.3 million from $2 million a year earlier. However, sales rose to $56.3 million from $41.6 million a year ago. The sales growth reflects the acquisitions of the LaJobi and CoCaLo brands in April 2008. In December, Russ Berrie divested its gift business.

Atlanta, Ga.-based Cox Communications Inc. is mulling strategic alternatives for its Travel Channel Media subsidiary, and it has hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to review long-term options for the Chevy Chase, Md.-based unit. The business includes The Travel Channel, which is a television network available in more than 94 million U.S. homes, as well as the Web property travelchannel.com. Cox Communications said it received unsolicited inquiries about Travel Channel Media. Travel Channel was launched in February 1987 and became a wholly-owned unit of Cox Communications in May 2007.