Bloomberg Buys BusinessWeek

Magazine — once valued at $1 billion — to sell for less than $5 million.

The sale of BusinessWeek is done.

Bloomberg LP won the bid to buy the magazine from McGraw-Hill, the companies announced Tuesday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal puts the sale price in the $2 million to $5 million range plus the assumption of debt.

The deal is expected to close Dec. 1.

Norm Pearlstine, Bloomberg chief content officer, will become chairman of BusinessWeek, the companies said. Pearlstine served as Time Inc.’s editor-in-chief, overseeing the company during the Valerie Plame scandal involving Time reporter Matt Cooper.

It remains to be seen if there will be any layoffs associated with the merger. BusinessWeek employs more than 400 staffers.

“We are not buying BusinessWeek to gut it,” Bloomberg LP president Daniel Doctoroff assured BusinessWeek.com. “We are buying it to build it.”

The 80-year-old magazine will continue to publish weekly and online.

"While the ink is barely dry and the long-term plans are being worked out," BusinessWeek publisher Keith Fox wrote in a memo to his staff, "we do know that Bloomberg is committed to and values our brand, our editorial integrity, and our ability to drive advertising, circulation, and new digital revenue."

Through September, ad pages for BusinessWeek were down a staggering 34.7 percent, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

At a meeting late Monday, Fox told employees that there will be no layoffs between now and the end of the year. (According to BusinessWeek.com editor-in-chief John Byrne, Fox said the Bloomberg agreement "guarantees McGraw-Hill benefits to all BusinessWeek employees for a full year after the deal closes.")

BusinessWeek – once valued at more than $1 billion — is expected to lose roughly $40 million this year. Revenues are expected to be about $130 million, the company said.

That a magazine once viewed that valuable could sell for that little is astonishing, though not surprising to the M&A community.

“A few years ago, BusinessWeek was worth a billion dollars,” Reed Phillips, managing director of DeSilva + Phillips, said in an interview with TheWrap in July. “Today, it has no value. That kind of rapid decline in value is giving buyers of media businesses a real scare.”

McGraw-Hill CEO Terry McGraw and Bloomberg executives are scheduled to address BusinessWeek's staff on Tuesday morning.

  • newser

    HRH Mike Bloomberg, who physically resembles Prince Charles, will soon have all the time in the world to buy&sell since he will be fired from his current job by the People of NYC.

  • David Sams

    Glossies are being replaced by the Internet. TV is being replaced by the Internet. CDs are being replaced by downloads via the Internet. Brick and mortar retail is being replaced by the Internet.

    Anyone who has a crystal ball that is not showing the future of media CLEARLY needs to take an early retirement.

    The BusinessWeek deal was brilliant. The domain name itself, based on the amount of traffic it gets, is worth $7,800,00. The value of the brand is priceless.

    I predict that Mike Bloomberg will keep the magazine in print while he figures out the online strategy. Once he does, good-bye glossy sheet!

    This is a good deal for BusinessWeek's employees, too. They'll get to keep their jobs, at least for a while.

    Congrats to those involved for the creative dealmaking. It's nice to see a staple like BusinessWeek survive…and folks keep their paycheck.

    For those of you who think the bloodbath is over…IT'S ONLY STARTING! TV and the Internet is about to converge over the next 3 years. With cable, satellite, and the Internet–there is no longer any reason to own an expensive “broadcast” station.

    David Sams
    davidsams.net (LinkedIn)

  • Jill Kennedy

    I definitely agree with you David Sams. Definitely a GREAT deal for Bloomberg at an unbelievable price. Who would have thought when Business 2.0 was bought by Time Warner for $40 million (and then shut down a couple years later) that Business Week would ever be sold for less – especially this much less.

    Jill Kennedy – OnMedea
    http://www.mankabros.com/onmedea