c.2013 New York Times News Service

c.2013 New York Times News Service

SHANGHAI — A wealthy Chinese businessman and philanthropist known for his zany public stunts said Tuesday that he is leading a group of investors seeking to acquire a large or controlling stake in The New York Times Co.

Shares in the Times Co. jumped 4 percent to a five-year high Monday, shortly after the businessman, Chen Guangbiao, hinted at his plans in a speech in southern China.

The publisher of The New York Times said earlier this year that the family that controls the paper is not interested in selling it.

In a telephone interview Tuesday, Chen said he had been thinking about “working with” The New York Times for years. Recently, he said, he had persuaded two businessmen, including a Hong Kong tycoon, to help him raise about $1 billion to snap up a large portion of the company, now valued at about $2.4 billion based on its stock price.

Because of the way its shares are structured, the company is controlled largely by a special class of stock, Class B shares, held by descendants of Adolph S. Ochs, who acquired the paper in 1896. The Class A stock, which is publicly traded, has risen about 86 percent this year.

Chen, who made a fortune in the recycling business, said he had set up a meeting with Times representatives next week in New York. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said, “We have no information about any such meeting.”

In the telephone interview, Chen said, “If I can get this deal with The New York Times, I will be able to bring more positive images and influence to contribute to world peace and make the world a better place.” He added, “If the deal breaks off, I will keep searching for another credible and influential media company in the U.S. to achieve my goal.”

Although The Times has a news bureau in China, the paper’s English- and Chinese-language websites have both been blocked here since late 2012.

Chen said he would work to repair The Times’ image in China, and also improve the paper’s understanding of the country.

“My plan for The New York Times if I get the deal will be putting the paper on every newsstand across the country and making The Times accessible to every Chinese household. China is such a big market and is too big to miss,” he said.