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Michael Bloomberg interested in acquiring Dow Jones, Washington Post

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

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

Why does it matter: Bloomberg wants to expand his media empire and sees Dow Jones as his ideal fit, but would buy the Post if Jeff Bezos is interested in selling, the person said.

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

Details: Bloomberg, the source notes, would be interested in a potential acquisition of either property, but Dow Jones – publisher of financial securities such as the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch – would be a stronger target.

  • Bloomberg is close to the owner of News Corp, parent of Dow Jones, Rupert Murdoch, and believes that efforts to merge News Corp and its sister company Fox Corporation will fail, creating a possible opening.
  • At least one activist investor said he preferred News Corp to separate parts of its business – its real estate platform or Dow Jones – to create value for investors.
  • Still, Bloomberg has yet to approach Murdoch about his interest, nor has it begun hiring official third parties, such as bankers, to assess the opportunity.
  • Bloomberg is friendly but not close to Bezos, the source said. He sees the Post combined with Bloomberg as a formidable potential competitor to the New York Times.

A Dow Jones business would give Bloomberg access to a top-tier 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 surpassed $10 billion for the first time in 2018.
  • Bloomberg’s news offering, powered by Bloomberg Media — a separate division of Bloomberg LP — has helped Terminal differentiate itself from other data and analytics platforms on Wall Street.
  • Bloomberg plans 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 adequate, can help broaden Bloomberg’s coverage of the federal government, which includes Bloomberg Law and the Bloomberg government.

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

The big picture: Bloomberg has a history of acquiring professional news companies and incorporating them into its media strategy.

  • Bloomberg LP purchased 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 firm acquired Barclays’ portfolio benchmark and strategy index business in 2016, and eventually rebranded it as Bloomberg Indices following the expiration of a five-year co-branding agreement with Barclays.

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