Bloomberg Media looks to Asia

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am


Bloomberg Media Group, the consumer business unit of the privately-held financial information services giant, expects key partnerships in major markets to expand its global audience and put it on the fast track to profitability.

Formed in March, the group brings together the television, print, radio, mobile and digital media properties of its cash-rich, New York-based parent company Bloomberg.

It is now targeting potential local partnerships in China and other emerging markets, following alliances forged this year in Mongolia and the Middle East.

'We're in the hunt here in Asia for these relationships,' said Andrew Lack, the chief executive at Bloomberg Media Group. 'We need to bring this business model more sharply into focus.'

The mainland certainly fits the bill of a big opportunity that would help the group to rapidly expand its operations. The domestic market had 457 million internet users and 175 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of last year. It also had 939.5 million mobile phone network users as of the end of September.

'We've begun some discussions and we've been approached by various different [potential] partners,' Lack told the South China Morning Post.

'My view is that I would be surprised if some entity over the next 18 months will not emerge to make a great partner for us and vice versa.'

The group's two overriding goals were to become 'the most influential news organisation in the world' and a viable business concern.

He said the Bloomberg media operations outside the US had never been profitable before until its recent success with alliances in India and Turkey, according to Lack.

'We're here to create a consumer unit that serves as a genuine extension of the terminals business, bringing the reach of Bloomberg's international infrastructure to the consumer space,' he said.

'We're on the path and we're making nice progress along the way.'

Parent firm Bloomberg, which was founded in 1981, is the leading player in the US$16 billion-a-year global financial data market.

The firm provides its eponymous terminals to more than 300,000 professional subscribers worldwide. Its major competitors include Thomson Reuters and Dow Jones Newswires.

Lack said Bloomberg Media Group was moving forward with its initiative in the mainland's print publishing industry. After signing a new licensing deal with Hong Kong-listed Modern Media Holdings in March this year, the group has scheduled the publication of a Chinese-language edition of Bloomberg Businessweek this month.

It announced last week the launch of a new television channel, Bloomberg TV Mongolia, in March next year. It has partnered with the Development Bank of Mongolia to develop this network based in the capital Ulan Bator.

The group last September also formed an alliance with Alarab, the new international cable news channel formed by Kingdom Holding Company and the Rotana group, and is privately owned by Prince al-Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia. Rival CNBC, the world's leading satellite and cable business news network, has also managed to advance its interests on the mainland after forging a new collaboration with state broadcaster China Central Television.

It followed an alliance forged in 2003 between CNBC and Shanghai Media Group.

With those two deals secured, CNBC now has a wider back door into the mainland's coveted domestic media market, which continues to be technically off-limits to foreign investors.

'We're aggressive in some parts of the world and we're patient in others,' CNBC president and chief executive Mark Hoffman had said last year about the broadcaster's steady expansion efforts.

It is a sentiment apparently shared by Lack, who declared that he 'can't imagine a world in which we won't have a partner in China'.

He added: 'It's only a matter of time.'