Michael Bloomberg is said to have no intention of selling his media company, whether or not he runs for president.
The billionaire chief executive officer and cofounder of Bloomberg LP early this month set off a flurry of speculation about the future of his company after he told an Iowa (read “swing state”) radio station in a brief interview that should he be elected president, he would try to sell it, or put it into a blind trust. But sources tell WWD that the latter is the only option under consideration for the privately held company.
There was surprise internally that Bloomberg mentioned the prospect of a sale at all, much less publicly, as there is said to be nothing happening to that end. Things can always change, but it’s said the prospective launch of a trust is being looked into preliminarily, either for the prospect of Bloomberg running for and becoming president or possibly just taking a step back from the company as he nears his 80s without a family member poised to succeed him. A company spokesman declined to comment.
A blind trust would put the media company and likely other assets and operations, like Bloomberg’s charitable organizations, under the complete control of a third party and Bloomberg would have no say in decision-making, but would maintain financial benefits. A typical trust, or a revocable trust, would see the assets also go under management of a trustee, but Bloomberg would have input and the power to take back any or all of the assets until his death, when the trust would serve chosen beneficiaries.
Chatter of a trust seems to have given way to speculation about succession planning as a whole, which is thought to be under way as well, to some degree. This happened in 2016 when Bloomberg came close to a presidential run, but recently, the company’s three-member management committee added three members.
Previously composed of Bloomberg himself, cofounder Thomas Secunda and chairman Peter Grauer, the additions are Patti Roskill, chief financial officer; Vlad Kliatchko, global head of engineering, and Jean-Paul Zammitt, global head of financial products. While all are notably younger than Bloomberg, Grauer and Secunda, all have also been with the company for many years and are generally thought of as capable of running the company as a next generation.
While nothing is certain and Bloomberg has publicly floated running for president a couple of times since he in 2013 left the office as Mayor of New York City, sources pointed to the ages of Bloomberg and Grauer (who would likely take up the ceo role in the event Bloomberg had to step aside during a campaign) both being well north of 70. So it makes sense that some younger executives are being brought into the fold now, with or without an official presidential campaign under way. At some point, the reins will have to be passed.
Should Bloomberg again forgo a campaign, it’s thought that he will remain at the helm of the company for a while still. He’s said to have no lack of energy and a frequent refrain when his age comes up is that his mother lived until she was 102.
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