Thomson Reuters (NSDQ: TRIN) has publicly been saying that it has no interest in bidding for BusinessWeek, ever since the news that it was on the block came out. And that was true, until Bloomberg and later ZelnickMedia came into the picture: the multimedia business media giant is working as a strategic partner in the ZelnickMedia bid for BusinessWeek, we have learned from multiple sources. It will not contribute any cash to the deal, if successful, but presumably will have some sort of a content and distribution arrangement. Also, with Zelnick’s bid, we have also learned that there may be other monetary investors involved, though Zelnick surely is the lead on this. As has been reported previously, Zelnick is being advised by former WSJ publisher and Dow Jones (NYSE: NWS) exec Gordon Crovitz, who is not likely to take any operating role if the bid is successful.
As for the reasons Thomson Reuters got interested again, one source said it is because of Bloomberg: it wants to keep a bitter rival from getting a more consumer-facing media brand. Both Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have been trying to diversify with their consumer efforts, as has been well documented. Also BW and McGraw-Hill (NYSE: MHP) want to find a media company as a home for the 80-year old brand, rather than a PE shop. With Thomson Reuters involved in the Zelnick bid, it helps tamp down some of those fears within BW. Also, another source says the final decision is not as imminent as it is being made out in press, which probably means there’s some due diligence left on who to choose between the two — unless some last-second bid also comes in. Reuters declined comment on “market rumor or speculation.”
Interestingly, Thomson Reuters CEO Tom Glocer recently penned a column for BW the mag, on its recent issue about the role of optimism in business. And he mentioned on his blog that among the reasons he did the post for the mag: “BusinessWeek itself has been the subject of a number of swipes in other publications ever since rumors of its purported sale began to leak, and I was happy to support Steve Adler and his very professional team at BW. The fact that the economic model for business news has shifted rapidly under the feet of BW, Forbes and Fortune should not now be seen to detract from the quality of the work of their journalists.”
Another small aside, the employees at BW have banded together to form a private social network on Ning, for editorial employees and ex-employees only, at 43rdfloor.ning.com, a reference to the floor in the McGraw-Hill building that BW edit employees work on. Anyone have a password to it? You know how to send it to us through the anonymous comment form in the right column.
For our coverage of the BusinessWeek sale process, read our dedicated company section.