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 either Wall Street Journal parent Dow Jones or the Washington Post, a source familiar with his thinking told Axios.

Why it’s important: Bloomberg wants to expand his media empire and sees Dow Jones as his ideal fit, but he would buy the Post if Jeff Bezos was interested in selling, the source said.

  • The combination of Bloomberg and Dow Jones would create unprecedented business news.

Details: Bloomberg, the source notes, would be interested in a potential acquisition of both properties, but Dow Jones — the 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 News Corp’s owner, 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 has said they would rather News Corp spin off parts of the business — either the real estate platform or Dow Jones — to unlock value for investors.
  • Still, Bloomberg has yet to approach Murdoch about his interest, nor has he begun engaging any official third parties, such as bankers, to consider the possibility.
  • Bloomberg is friendly with, but not close to, Bezos, the source said. He sees Posten combined with Bloomberg as a formidable potential competitor to the New York Times.

A Dow Jones deal would give Bloomberg access to a premium business title that could be leveraged to sell more subscriptions to Bloomberg Terminal, a real-time data, news and analytics platform for financial professionals.

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

Between the lines: The post, while a smaller fit, could help bolster Bloomberg’s federal government coverage, which includes Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg Government.

  • The Post is on track to lose money this year and has lost digital subscribers after the Trump-era subscription bump.
  • The company, which was bought by Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million, said last week that layoffs would come in the first quarter of 2023. The Post’s two big software bets under Bezos are being sidelined and potentially sold, leading some to wonder how invested Bezos continues to be in the property.
  • A spokesperson for the Post told Axios, “The Post is not for sale.”

The big picture: Bloomberg has a history of buying up professional news companies and folding them into its media strategy.

  • Bloomberg LP bought what was then a professional services news and research group called the Bureau of National Affairs, or BNA, for about $990 million in 2011. Bloomberg BNA is now called the Bloomberg Industry Group and includes subdivisions focused on topics such as legal reporting .
  • The company bought a portfolio benchmark and strategy index business from Barclays in 2016 and rebranded it to Bloomberg Indices after a five-year co-branding deal 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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