Last week Michael Bloomberg started takings tips toward becoming a fully-fledged presidential candidate. While he has yet to formally announce his candidacy, Bloomberg has filed the paperwork necessary to become a candidate in the Democratic primaries. As the former New York mayor and Wall Street billionaire prepares to unveil his campaign, many are wondering what will happen to his namesake company, Bloomberg LP. While it’s still just speculation at this point, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has potential as a suitor.
Many are speculating that Bloomberg would put the media firm up for sale. A year ago, he said as much in a radio interview.
I think at my age, if selling it is possible, I would do that. At some point, you’re going to die anyway, so you want to do it before then.
At the time, Bloomberg was reportedly valued at around $40 billion, so finding a suitor would be no easy task.
While Bloomberg’s comments back in December suggest he’s ready and willing to start shopping around for a suitor, recent news reports suggest he’s had a change of heart. NBC reported that an internal memo received by all Bloomberg staffers said the potential Presidential candidate wasn’t planning to sell. Instead, Bloomberg would be run by an expanded Management Committee.
The memo referenced Bloomberg’s previous political forays as evidence that the billionaire could keep the company ticking forward without selling it on.
However, Bloomberg’s candidacy could create some tension for staffers. As Michael himself pointed out in the interview last year, “I don’t want the reporters I’m paying to write a bad story about me.” That conflict of interest could mean the firm would stop covering politics, one solution he offered, or perhaps it would make more sense to hand it over to someone else.
Back in December 2018, sources close to former New York mayor said he likely wouldn’t sell the company unless he actually became President. That means he’s unlikely to ruffle feathers until he gets closer to becoming the Democrat’s official candidate.
There has been a lot of speculation on potential suitors for the private media giant. While many point to financial firms as having the closest ties to Bloomberg’s audience and content, there aren’t many out there that can afford to take the media house under their umbrellas without eroding their financial stability.
Big-name tech players, on the other hand, have plenty of cash to make that kind of an acquisition and one in particular has been on a buying spree so far this year: Microsoft.
So far this year, MSFT has made 12 acquisitions to further its business— perhaps Bloomberg could be lucky number 13. The tie-up could make sense as MSFT builds out its offerings with its purchase of LinkedIn and GitHub, two of the most influential professional networks in the world. That would pair well with Bloomberg’s existing market and could offer Microsoft another way to continue growing its portfolio of services.
While neither Bloomberg nor Microsoft have made any comments indicating they’re talking about a potential buyout, speculation has started to grow that the two would make a great pair.
Of course, while a MSFT-Bloomberg tie-up might make sense on the surface, it’s worth noting that the deal would likely struggle with regulatory issues. The sale is only likely should Bloomberg emerge as a strong Democrat candidate, a position that would put him in President Trump’s firing line. Trump could use some of his political power to keep the deal from being approved, an obstacle Bloomberg is probably weighing up as he decides whether or not to sell his namesake.
Adding Bloomberg to the Microsoft umbrella makes sense, but the two are unlikely to ever make it past the courting stages. A deal of that size that would benefit a direct opponent to President Trump would be stuck in regulatory purgatory for quite some time. Plus, many are predicting Bloomberg’s candidacy to be a wash anyway— a sentiment that’s likely not lost on Mr. Bloomberg himself. Even if he is planning to sell in order to commit to a Presidential run, he’ll probably wait for confirmation that he even has a shot before considering a sale. For those reasons, the likelihood of a Bloomberg sale anytime in the near future looks low.
Last modified: September 23, 2020 1:16 PM