It's looking more and more like Bloomberg LP is going to prevail in the bidding for BusinessWeek. That's partly because no one else seems to want the business weekly very much: Logical potential owners like Dow Jones (NWS) and Time Inc. (TWX) took themselves out of the running early on, and New York magazine owner Bruce Wasserstein, who had shown substantial interest, dropped out last week. Among strategic buyers, that leaves Bloomberg and Inc./Fast Company owner Joe Mansueto -- and BusinessWeek's own Jon Fine believes that the latter is out of contention as well.
Why does Bloomberg see potential where others don't? A partial answer could lie in the news and information provider's web strategy. With most of its resources focused on its terminal business, Bloomberg's website is very much an also-ran in the business-news category. Bloomberg.com attracted 2.3 million unique visitors in August, according to ComScore, making it the 13th biggest site in its category. McGraw-Hill's (MHP) Businessweek.com is somewhat larger, with 3.4 million uniques in August, good for 11th in the category.
But put together, the two make a compelling combination. Only 7.4 percent of Businessweek.com's users also frequent Bloomberg.com. Because of the minimal duplication, the two sites would have a combined audience of 5.46 million, vaulting the combo past TheStreet.com, Reuters, CNNMoney and Forbes in the ComScore rankings, all the way to No. 7.
On its own, it's not much of a reason to buy a magazine that's losing more than $40 million a year. But BusinessWeek isn't just any magazine, says media investment banker Andrew Buchholtz. "BusinessWeek has a very special place in the world," he says. "You can see it as a brand opportunity. There aren't that many of those. Rupert [Murdoch] bought The Wall Street Journal in a hot market and paid a lot of money for it. You could actually do with BusinessWeek what Rupert did with the Journal and do it in a buyer's market."
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