Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bloomberg Buys BusinessWeek From McGraw-Hill

Editor's note: Watch for Bloomberg to dump a bunch of money into money-losing BusinessWeek. The company still needs to be repositioned away from a weekly business magazine, a dying format, if it is going to make money. All the weekly news magazines are in trouble except for The Economist. - MT

The New York Times - Bloomberg is taking another step from the trading floor into the corner office.

The company said Tuesday that it was the winning bidder for BusinessWeek, the troubled 80-year-old title that McGraw-Hill had put on sale this summer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the price was said to be near $5 million, plus assumption of liabilities, which were $31.9 million as of April.

The magazine will continue to be a weekly print publication, rechristened Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Decisions have not been made about BusinessWeek’s staff of more than 400 people; Bloomberg will select which of those employees it wants by the end of the year, when the deal closes. Those not selected will receive severance from McGraw-Hill, said a BusinessWeek executive.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.

BusinessWeek was in a tough spot financially, and lost more than $800,000 dollars a week last year. Investors had pressured McGraw-Hill to get it off its books. While there was interest from parties in the private equity world, Bloomberg was seen as the preferred buyer.

“We are committed to the partnership,” said BusinessWeek president Keith Fox in an interview. “Bloomberg is acquiring a really powerful brand with strong reach among business professionals.”

Faced with slowing sales of its financial data terminals during the recession that have since improved, Bloomberg had been looking to expand its presence in consumer media. Clients for Bloomberg’s terminals are largely financial professionals, and the purchase of BusinessWeek, with its consumer and executive readers, gives the media company more access to the corporate offices as well.

With its gigantic newsroom of about 2,200 people and its aggressive reporting, Bloomberg has won a growing number of awards, but it is frustrated by its lack of cachet in the journalism world. Reporters and editors have long been frustrated by the lack of access to business executives, and they believed that limited their ability to break news and be a player in larger news coverage.

With the acquisition, Bloomberg adds name recognition and a consumer publication. The company was considering combining the Bloomberg.com and BusinessWeek.com Web sites and adding the BusinessWeek brand and journalists to Bloomberg TV. The company will continue Bloomberg Markets, a monthly magazine.

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