Bloomberg Submits Its Bid For BusinessWeek

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.' "

Reader Comments

Hugo van Randwyck

September 21, 2009 3:21 AM

Maybe the new owners could offer readers of the magazine and internet, the option of current layouts and previous layouts to choose from. This could be offered to magazine readers with additional price, depending on how many other readers also chose a particular style. Similar to Coca Cola and Classic Coke.

Robert

September 21, 2009 5:38 AM

I have found as a center-left progressive over the years that Business Week gives me good business writing without the baggage of a doctrinaire right mentality (ie. Wall Street Journal). This has always shown me how objective Business Week tries to be in its reporting. I'm holding on with bated breath wondering whether Bloomberg if its successful in its' bid will eviscerate this well respected editorial independence. I used to like The Journal too until Rupert Murdoch took his "fair and objective" mentality to it (roflol)!

Dave

September 21, 2009 10:58 AM

I think this is a really interesting acquisition.

Bloomberg now has a business print publication with large readership, and can perhaps take their (Bloomberg's) online product and some how make a basic version of it that can be available with Business Week.

Don

September 21, 2009 2:48 PM

I agree with Robert that the weird political baggage of WSJ has turned me off almost all other business news.

sam

September 29, 2009 8:57 PM

After the sale many of the editorial staff will probably be replaced. Being unemployed will give some of them some real-world experience that they sorely lack. Maybe BW could be off-shored to Bangalore. Writing business articles is not nearly as hard as writing software.

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The media world continues to shapeshift as new forms arise and old assumptions erode. On this blog, Bloomberg Businessweek will provide sharp analysis and timely reports on the transformation of this constantly changing terrain.

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