Business

Michael Bloomberg interested in buying Dow Jones, Washington Post

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Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire businessman and media mogul, is interested in buying the Dow Jones parent company of the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post, a source familiar with his thinking told Axios.

Why it matters: Bloomberg wants to expand its media empire and sees Dow Jones as its ideal partner, but would buy the Post if Jeff Bezos were interested in a sale, the source said.

  • The combination of Bloomberg and Dow Jones would create an unparalleled business news giant.

Details: Bloomberg, the source noted, would be interested in potentially buying any of the assets, but Dow Jones — publisher of financial titles such as The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch — would be a stronger target.

  • Bloomberg is close to Dow Jones parent Rupert Murdoch and believes efforts to merge News Corp and its sister company Fox Corporation will fail, creating a possible opening.
  • At least one activist investor said he would prefer News Corp to spin off parts of its business — whether its real estate platform or Dow Jones — to unlock value for investors.
  • Still, Bloomberg has not yet approached Murdoch about his interest, nor has it begun engaging any formal third parties, such as bankers, to evaluate the opportunity.
  • Bloomberg is friendly with Bezos but not close, the source said. He sees the Post combined with Bloomberg as a formidable potential competitor to The New York Times.

Dow Jones contract would give Bloomberg access to a premier business title that could be used to sell more subscriptions to Bloomberg Terminal, a real-time data, news and analysis platform for financial professionals.

  • Terminal subscriptions make up the vast majority of Bloomberg LP’s revenue, which topped $10 billion for the first time in 2018.
  • Bloomberg’s news offering, powered by Bloomberg Media — a separate division within Bloomberg LP — helped differentiate the terminal from other Wall Street data and analytics platforms.
  • Bloomberg would plan to integrate any titles it acquires with Bloomberg Media, creating a formidable business news empire, the source said.
  • News Corp declined to comment.

Between the lines: The post, while less obvious, could help boost Bloomberg’s coverage of the federal government, which includes Bloomberg’s law and Bloomberg’s government.

  • The paper is on track to lose money this year and has lost digital subscribers after a Trump-era subscription surge.
  • The company, which was bought by Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million, said last week that layoffs are coming in the first quarter of 2023. Two of The Post’s big software bets under Bezos have been sidelined and potentially sold, leading some to question how invested Bezos still is.
  • A Post spokesman told Akios: “The Post is not for sale.”

The whole: Bloomberg has a history of acquiring professional news companies and folding them into its media strategy.

  • In 2011, Bloomberg LP bought what was then a professional services news and research group called Bureau of National Affairs, or BNA, for about $990 million. Bloomberg BNA is now called the “Bloomberg Industry Group” and includes sub-sectors focused on topics such as legal reporting.
  • The company acquired a portfolio of benchmark and strategic indices from Barclays in 2016 and eventually rebranded it as “Bloomberg Indices” after a five-year co-branding agreement with Barclays expired.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say Bloomberg LP bought BNA in 2011, not 2021.

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