Bloomberg reorganizes news operation and management
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Financial news and data company Bloomberg LP is creating several new units as part of a reorganization that includes a shuffling of top management.
A new multimedia operation will include Bloomberg's Internet, television and radio news services, and will be separate from its text news service, the company said on Wednesday.
A new subsidiary, Bloomberg Ventures, will be dedicated to coming up with new ideas for the larger business, and will be run by Bloomberg LP's one-time chief executive and current head of sales, Lex Fenwick, company spokeswoman Judith Czelusniak said.
The company's top editor, Matt Winkler, will lose his control of the Internet, TV and radio operations, but will remain in charge of the text news business.
The moves come as Bloomberg LP faces a difficult period because of reeling global markets that are causing financial services firms -- the main customers of Bloomberg's terminals, which provide financial news and data analysis -- to totter and in some cases collapse.
Bloomberg also faces uncertainty in the near future as Merrill Lynch management decides whether it must sell its 20 percent stake in the company. Merrill may need to raise about $5 billion in capital, depending on the size of the loss it is expected to record next week.
Fenwick told employees in an e-mail last week that "it has always been my dream" to create a company dedicated to innovation.
The company has not yet chosen a leader for the multimedia business, but it will no longer be the province of Winkler, the steward of Bloomberg's news business for nearly two decades.
"As the news organization has grown and continues to grow along with our terminal businesses, we want to unlock the potential of our multimedia businesses," Czelusniak said. The spokeswoman declined to offer specifics.
The changes were instituted by Bloomberg Chairman Peter Grauer, former managing director and senior partner of CSFB Private Equity, and President Dan Doctoroff, former New York City deputy mayor and former managing director for private equity at Lehman Brothers.
When Doctoroff was tapped for the Bloomberg job last December, he was widely seen as being an agent of change as well as being a loyal lieutenant to Bloomberg's founder and controlling shareholder, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
To build up its news business, the company earlier this year hired Norman Pearlstine, former editor at Time Warner Inc's Time magazine and at The Wall Street Journal and most recently managing director at private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Pearlstine did not respond to requests for comment on the changes at the company.
Merrill's chief executive, John Thain, said last month that Merrill's stake in Bloomberg could be worth $5 billion to $6 billion. If Merrill sells the 20 percent stake, the price it gets would tell the market how much the privately held company is worth.
That would be a factor in determining whether the company could ever go public, and would give the financial world an idea of how its value stacks up against primary competitor Thomson Reuters Corp.
Analysts have pegged Bloomberg's value at as high as $30 billion, around the same level as Thomson Reuters. Each company controls a little more than 30 percent of the financial data market.
Bloomberg's terminal business accounts for more than 85 percent of its revenue, which grew 15 percent to $5.4 billion in 2007 from 2006. There were 274,000 installed terminals as of the end of 2007, and 290,000 terminals as of mid-year 2008.
Layoffs will not be part of the reorganization, Czelusniak said.
"This company has never had a layoff, and we don't plan to," the spokeswoman said. "Rather, in challenging markets, we invest in our people and in our products."
Part of that investment is a new employee cash incentive plan tied to sales as well as individual and department goals. The previous plan was based on certificates whose value was based on sales.
(Editing by Gary Hill)