It almost feels like a game of one-upmanship.

Earlier this week, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu made a deal to invest $250 million in ailing media conglomerate New York Times Co. (NYSE:NYT).

The terms are rich. Slim yields 14.053% in annual bond payments and gets warrants to purchase 15.9 million class A shares of New York Times for $6.3572 each, a 7.6% premium to Monday's close (before the deal was finalized).

If that deal sounds better than what Warren Buffett extracted from Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) and General Electric (NYSE:GE), it is. Maybe. Slim gets a higher guaranteed return -- 14% versus 10% -- and risks less capital than the billions Buffett spent for preferred shares of Goldman and GE.

On the other hand, what would you rather own? New York Times? Or Goldman and GE? Our 125,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS calls this one a no-brainer:


New York Times

General Electric

Goldman Sachs

CAPS stars (5 max)




Total ratings




Percent Bulls




Percent Bears




Bullish pitches

23 of 68

2,088 of 2,261

755 of 838

Data current as of Jan. 22, 2009.

"[New York Times] has an illiquid balance sheet. It is also loss making and distributes an unsustainable dividend. It operates in one of the most loss making industry: newspapers publishing," wrote CAPS All-Star cashsage earlier this month.

Good point. The news from New York Times and peers like Gannett (NYSE:GCI) and McClatchy (NYSE:MNI) is rarely good. Gannett, for example, says that it is very close to shuttering the Tucson Citizen, an afternoon paper.

So is why is Slim buying now? Returns. "We think it's a great brand," Helu deputy Arturo Elias told ABC News. "We think it's a good financial opportunity. And that's what we thought to make these investments."

No talk of a turnaround; it's just a good deal for Slim. One that we common Fools can't get. Don't get sucked in.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication.

Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy needs to wash the ink off. Be right back.