Bloomberg, a stake of one’s own
When we heard that Merrill Lynch wasn’t ruling out a sale of its stake in newswire and financial information service Bloomberg LP, we had to wonder who would want it. More to the point, we had to wonder who wouldn’t. As our story explained, Bloomberg probably (though we can’t say for sure) is a lucrative enterprise that any investor would want to profit from.
As it turns out, wanting something is fine, but just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. Here’s the problem: at an estimated $6 billion, Merrill’s Bloomberg stake is way too expensive for most media companies. Not only that, the companies who could afford it — private equity and sovereign wealth funds — are unlikely to raise the cash to take a shot at it. The reason? They like the control that money brings, and with Bloomberg that’s not going to happen.
I spent some time with a high-level (and of course anonymous) source who knows how things work at Bloomberg, and here’s what that source had to say about it:
We’re talking about taking a minority position in a privately held
countrycompany that is completely controlled by the mayor of New York City who gets to do whatever he wants. You have less say than you would have if you were the owner of 10 shares of General Motors.
If Merrill wants to sell, the easiest deal is to call Mike and come to a deal, my guess is, he’d do the deal.
Well, Bloomberg did say he wasn’t interested in newspapers.