Posted by: Jon Fine on September 20, 2009
After being given a few days’ grace past the September 15 deadline for final bids for BusinessWeek, Bloomberg LP submitted its bid for the 80-year old business magazine, according to executives familiar with the situation.
A Bloomberg spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email, but previously declined to comment on Bloomberg’s interest, real or imagined, in a bid for BusinessWeek. A spokesman for BusinessWeek parent company McGraw-Hill declined to comment on the number or identity of final bidders, but said the company was “very pleased with the meaningful interest” displayed in BusinessWeek.
Other than Bloomberg, among the bidders—plural, as there are more than one—for BusinessWeek is OpenGate Capital, the private equity firm that owns TV Guide magazine.
A bid from Bloomberg is widely expected to make the business information giant the prohibitive favorite to purchase BusinessWeek. (Caveat time: I write that phrase as one ignorant of the exact details of the bids for the magazine I work for. And if you’d asked me around a week ago who’d win BusinessWeek I’d have told you Lazard Chairman Bruce Wasserstein—who last Monday night decided against submitting a final bid.)
The privately-held Bloomberg is reckoned to rake in well over $5 billion in revenue a year, the overwhelming majority of which comes from subscribers to its pricey terminals. It’s viewed as a company with both the resources to outbid most other comers and also one that has an existing infrastructure that many BusinessWeek operations can be folded into. (One other party who matches key portions of that profile, Morningstar founder and Inc. and Fast Company owner Joe Mansueto, has also explored a deal for BusinessWeek, but my hunch is that Mansueto passed on making a final bid.) Bloomberg operates a wire service, a Web site, a cable channel and Bloomberg Markets magazine. When I looked at their media operations, around a year ago, Bloomberg was employing 2,350 journalists—or around 15% more than the combined staffs New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. And Bloomberg’s staff has grown since then.
I’d forgotten this until I re-read this column I wrote last autumn about Bloomberg's media plans, but Chief Content Officer Norman Pearlstine offered some interesting thoughts on how to make Bloomberg bigger when I interviewed him in October '08:
"We're looking at potential acquisitions," sa[id] Pearlstine. "We're just sort of saying: 'Hey, we're looking for good ideas.' "
The media, entertainment and marketing worlds continue to shapeshift on a near-daily basis, as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. Where is it all going? No one really knows. But on this blog BusinessWeek’s media writers Tom Lowry and Ron Grover promise to provide ample helpings of scoop, provocation, and sharp analysis as they track and annotate this constantly changing terrain.