September 26, 2020

Bloomberg Pays Tribute to The Financial Times, Reigniting Speculation on a Bid

In a speech for the occasion, Mr. Bloomberg said he was there “to celebrate my second favorite financial news outlet,” which he said has “always been on the cutting edge of financial journalism.”

Mr. Bloomberg has a standard response these days to inquiries about his interest in adding The F.T., currently owned by British company Pearson, to the financial media company that bears his name: “In fact, people are always telling me I should buy the F.T.,” Mr. Bloomberg said. He paused for comic affect, adding: “I buy it everyday.”

The Empire State Building glowed in a pink hue to celebrate the bisque-colored paper that got its start in Britain on May 1, 1888. The TV host Charlie Rose and the British advertising executive Martin Sorrell were among the guests who sipped pink champagne and vodka-spiked pink lemonade in the airy courtyard of the Academy Mansion near Central Park, a live jazz band playing in the background.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bloomberg faulted The New York Times for failing to report on the victims of gun violence while its editorial page criticizes the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy. A day later, he seemed somewhat apologetic, fondly recounting The Times’ founding and counting the paper among the “three great newspapers” including The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal. “You have to read all three and I do,” he said. “And then I read the papers that really matter, The New York Post and The Daily News.” (Also a day later, The Times reported on the crime that the mayor complained the paper had ignored: the shooting death of Alphonza Bryant III, 17, in the South Bronx.)

Mr. Bloomberg has talked to aides about whether he should purchase The Financial Times Group, according to people close to the mayor. One sticking point is that the division includes a half interest in The Economist, which Mr. Bloomberg has long coveted. Under the co-ownership agreement, however, The Financial Times Group, has no editorial control over the magazine.

“Why would you buy it if you can’t control it?” Mr. Bloomberg said at a party in Washington on Saturday. When asked whether he wants to buy The F.T., he said: “What do I know about newspapers?”

Marjorie Scardino, Pearson’s longtime chief executive who once said the paper would be sold “over my dead body,” left the company on Dec. 31. John Fallon, a longtime executive on the education side of Pearson’s global business, took over in January, sparking speculation that the “go-to paper for the respectable broker and honest financier” (in Mr. Bloomberg’s words on Wednesday), would be put on the block. A company spokesman previously said Pearson was not exploring a sale of The F.T.

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DealBook: For Embattled Hedge Fund Chief, a Big Art Deal

Steven A. Cohen apparently hasn’t let an insider trading investigation — or an elbow — put a stop to his dealings in art.

The billionaire hedge fund manager is paying $155 million for Picasso‘s “Le Rêve,” according to The New York Post’s Page Six, which cites an unidentified source. The report says the price is believed to be the highest ever paid for a work of art by a United States collector.

Mr. Cohen purchased the Picasso from the casino magnate Stephen A. Wynn, according to The Post, after an earlier deal fell through when Mr. Wynn accidentally damaged the painting with his elbow. For Mr. Cohen, the artwork is a “gift to himself,” and the sale was supposed to be “top secret,” the newspaper’s source said.

Jonathan Gasthalter, a spokesman for Mr. Cohen, declined to comment.

Mr. Cohen, known in the art world for his splashy purchases, has recently been making headlines for other reasons. This month, his hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, agreed to pay $616 million to resolve a pair of federal insider trading lawsuits, the latest chapter in an investigation into suspicious trading. Mr. Cohen has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

There was some concern in art circles about what affect the legal troubles might have on the hedge fund manager’s dealings. He was absent from Art Basel Miami Beach in December, The New York Times reported.

Hedge Fund Inquiry

But the billionaire is apparently still willing to pay top dollar for the right piece of art. “Le Rêve” is a work that he has pursued in the past.

In 2006, Mr. Cohen agreed to buy the painting from Mr. Wynn for $139 million, according to reports at the time. But the deal was canceled after Mr. Wynn accidentally tore a hole in the painting with his elbow.

Now, with the painting repaired, Mr. Wynn may be getting an even higher price for the masterpiece, which shows Picasso’s mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter.

“My feeling was, it’s a picture, it’s my picture, we’ll fix it,” Mr. Wynn told The New Yorker in 2006, recalling how the painting was damaged. “Nobody got sick or died. It’s a picture. It took Picasso five hours to paint it.”

Another unidentified source told The Post that Mr. Cohen “has wanted that painting for a long time. The timing of the sale is just a coincidence.”

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Media Decoder Blog: News Corp. Will Provide $2.6 Billion to Its New Publishing Company

News Corporation’s new publishing company will receive a $2.6 billion infusion of cash and have no debt when it separates from the company’s higher-growth cable channels and Hollywood studio this summer.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, the company confirmed what analysts had expected: Rupert Murdoch will make sure his beloved trove of roughly 175 newspapers will have plenty of capital once they are split off on their own.

The $2.6 billion figure, $1.82 billion of which will come from the parent company, is slightly higher than investors had anticipated, leading to speculation that it might be used to acquire additional newspapers.

The Tribune Company, which emerged from bankruptcy late last year, is looking for a potential buyer for its eight newspapers, including The Los Angeles Times, which Mr. Murdoch has long coveted, according to several people with knowledge of his thinking who could not discuss the News Corporation chairman publicly. (Tribune may also decide to sell its papers as a bundle.)

The new publishing company, which will retain the name News Corporation, will include strong newspapers, like The Wall Street Journal, and weaker ones like The New York Post, that will no longer have the security of billions in revenue from Fox News, FX and movies like “Avatar.”

In an interview last summer when News Corporation confirmed the split, Mr. Murdoch said his newsroom employees “shouldn’t feel like they’ve got a crutch” in the entertainment assets.

In the six months that ended Dec. 31, the assets that make up the new publishing company had $1.31 billion in profit and revenue of $4.45 billion. Robert Thomson, who will serve as the company’s chief executive, will earn a base salary of $2 million and a performance-based annual bonus of around $2 million beginning in 2014.

The company warned investors in Friday’s filing about potential pitfalls to investing in the new News Corporation, including investigations and lawsuits related to a phone hacking scandal that erupted at The News of the World tabloid in Britain in 2011. Legal fees and other expenses related to the scandal cost News Corporation $250 million from July 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2012, plus $25 million paid to claimants to settle civil lawsuits, the company said.

The Wall Street Journal will introduce WSJ.Money, a glossy magazine devoted to wealth management and personal finance, on Saturday. The magazine arrives after The Journal’s publisher, Dow Jones Company, ceased putting out a printed edition of Smart Money. The move underscores the new News Corporation’s emphasis on the Journal brand, and its bullishness on print.

“While others have scaled back in print, we’ve continued to buck the trend,” Gerard Baker, managing editor of The Journal, said in a statement.

News Corporation’s announcement comes two days after one of its competitors, Time Warner, said it would spin off Time Inc., its publishing arm. Analysts expect Time Inc. to have a less favorable financial structure.

“In no way does this mean that Time Warner must follow the same blueprint,” Dave Novosel, a senior investment grade analyst at the research firm Gimme Credit, wrote Friday in a report.

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Advertising: Michael Wolff Leaves Post at Adweek

Adweek, which named Mr. Wolff to the post barely a year ago, announced on Monday that he would be succeeded by the publication’s executive editor, Jim Cooper.

“We are grateful for Michael’s contribution to Adweek,” James Finkelstein, chairman of the Adweek parent, Prometheus Global Media, said in an article on

“His vision and guidance were essential during our monumental transformation,” Mr. Finkelstein said. That was a reference to the remaking of Adweek in April from a trade publication covering the advertising and marketing industries into a more consumer-oriented publication that played up coverage of the personalities and issues of the media and entertainment worlds.

Those changes were accompanied by the merging into Adweek of two trade publications that had been its siblings, Brandweek and Mediaweek.


In recent weeks, various reports in The New York Post and elsewhere claimed that Mr. Wolff was about to be fired after clashing with Mr. Finkelstein over the direction of Adweek. Mr. Wolff had irreverently batted away those rumors and even printed a small item in last week’s issue, in a section called “Up/Down,” that read, “Michael Wolff defies media rumors and still edits Adweek.” (That earned him an “Up.”)

His departure from Adweek was, however, not reported in this week’s issue, which came out on Monday. Rather, it was covered in the article on, which was followed by an article, billed as “A Letter to Adweek’s Readers,” about Mr. Cooper’s plans.

Mr. Cooper and Mr. Finkelstein “are not going to do interviews,” a spokeswoman for Prometheus Global Media, Lisa Dallos, wrote in an e-mail, because they preferred to let the letter and article “do the talking.”

Mr. Wolff did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Some speculation about Mr. Wolff’s departure, particularly those in The Post, was related to his aggressive coverage in Adweek, and his interviews elsewhere, about the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed the News Corporation and its owner, Rupert Murdoch. Mr. Wolff wrote a biography of Mr. Murdoch, who also owns The Post.

“Michael created some interesting content at Adweek, and I loved his coverage of Rupert Murdoch,” said Joe Mandese, editor in chief at MediaPost, which publishes online and print media and marketing trade publications. “But I could read that in New York or Vanity Fair.”

Mr. Mandese questioned how successful trade publications “that want to cover the media business for consumers” could be when there were “plenty of consumer publications that cover the media business.”

And the idea that altering the Adweek editorial formula would help bring in “upscale advertising” from marketers of products like automobiles and liquor has so far not panned out, Mr. Mandese said.

As the speculation about his departure intensified, Mr. Wolff portrayed the situation as a dispute between his vision for Adweek and how Mr. Finkelstein saw the magazine. Mr. Wolff spoke approvingly of having a publication with a broader mandate to cover the media business, a departure from the niche approach of covering the ins and outs of the advertising business that Madison Avenue had come to expect.

At an event on Oct. 6, during Advertising Week 2011 in New York, Mr. Wolff, in reply to a question about what was happening at Adweek, said, “There is a discussion going on in my company over what this magazine should be.”

One side, he said, “wants a magazine that tells a smaller story, the traditional ad trade magazine story, who’s winning what accounts.”

“I would not want to tell” that story, he added, but rather supported “another side which wants another story,” about the “incredible transformation” of the advertising, marketing and media businesses.

For that story, Mr. Wolff said, “I think I’m a pretty good choice.”


Also that week, Mr. Finkelstein had provided a mild statement of support for Mr. Wolff: “Michael’s name is still on the masthead. He is not being fired.”

The article on included a statement from Mr. Wolff that began: “I’ve had a fantastic time at Adweek. It’s been my privilege to be part of the brilliant transformation of the magazine and site.” It continued in that gushy, un-Wolff-like vein for three more sentences.

It is unclear whether Mr. Wolff’s departure means Adweek will refocus its coverage and return to its roots, resuming its decades-long, head-to-head battle with the trade publication Advertising Age. The letter to readers from Mr. Cooper praised the revamping and declared, “The new Adweek is out of the gate and running.”

The letter also stated that “flexibility, partnership and speedy execution will win the day and be the hallmarks of the new Adweek.”

Abbey Klaassen, editor of Advertising Age, part of Crain Communications, declined to comment on the Adweek announcement, which received no coverage on Monday on the Advertising Age Web site,

There has been other uncertainty at the top of Adweek’s parent company, which also publishes The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard.

The role of Richard D. Beckman, chief executive of Prometheus, was diminished in July when he gave up his sole responsibility for the company’s day-to-day operations to Mr. Finkelstein and took a post in brand development. Mr. Beckman had brought Mr. Wolff to Adweek and Prometheus Global Media.

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DealBook: Go Daddy Nears Sale to K.K.R. and Silver Lake commercial shown during the 2011 Super Bowl. One of the commercials that made its debut during the 2011 Super Bowl.

The Go Daddy Group, the Web domain registration company known for its risqué ads, is near a deal to sell itself to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Silver Lake and another investment firm for $2 billion to $2.5 billion, people briefed on the matter told DealBook on Friday.

An announcement could be made as soon as next week, though final details have yet to be worked out and the talks could still fall apart, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were private.

In addition to K.K.R. and Silver Lake, the investment group also includes Technology Crossover Ventures as a minority investor.

Go Daddy is one of the biggest domain name registrars, a subscription-based business with relatively steady cash flow. It also provides Web hosting services and other products.

Founded in 1997 in Scottsdale, Ariz., the company gained notice in part for titillating advertising, including Super Bowl commercials intentionally made to be rejected by television networks. Among Go Daddy’s chief spokeswomen — “Go Daddy Girls,” in the company’s parlance — is the race car driver Danica Patrick.

The company sought to go public in 2006, but scrapped those plans. One reason it gave: Go Daddy’s outspoken chief executive, Robert Parsons, found the mandatory quiet period “suffocating.” (He is expected to continue leading the company after the buyout.)

Go Daddy hired Qatalyst Partners, Frank Quattrone’s investment bank, to run the sales process last fall.

Representatives for GoDaddy and the buyout firms declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment.

News of the K.K.R.-led offer was reported earlier by The New York Post.

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