Michael Bloomberg to sell company if he enters the White House
Reuters, Washington :
Democratic presidential contender Michael Bloomberg will sell Bloomberg LP, the financial information company that made him a billionaire, if he is elected to the White House in November, his campaign confirmed on Tuesday.
Bloomberg has risen quickly in opinion polls since entering the race for the Democratic nomination in November and he will appear in his first debate of the election cycle on Wednesday in Las Vegas. Democrats are vying for the right to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election.
The former New York mayor has said before he would likely sell Bloomberg LP if elected, which his campaign affirmed on Tuesday.
"If elected president, Mike will sell the company," spokeswoman Galia Slayen said.
Bloomberg LP provides financial information to Wall Street firms in addition to news. It is privately held, with Bloomberg himself owning most of the company, which he founded in 1981. Analysts at Burton-Taylor International Consulting estimate the firm generated over $10 billion in revenue in 2019. Reuters News competes with Bloomberg LP's news service.
The Bloomberg campaign said the process of selling the company would begin with putting it in a blind trust and then selling it.
Bloomberg is not competing in the early voting states of the Democratic nomination process and instead hopes to start winning votes when 14 states vote on March 3 in the Super Tuesday contests
Proceeds from the sale would go to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable giving arm that funds causes from climate change to public health and grants for American cities.
The only restriction Mr Bloomberg would put on the sale is that it not be sold to a foreign buyer or a private equity company, Mr O'Brien said.
Mr Bloomberg is currently chief executive of the company. "We want to be 180 degrees apart from Donald Trump around financial conflicts of interest," Mr O'Brien told The Associated Press. "We think it's one of the biggest stains on the presidency, and Trump's record is his refusal to disengage himself in his own financial interests. And we want to be very transparent and clean and clear with voters about where Mike is on these things."
Indeed, as one of the world's wealthiest people, Mr Bloomberg would have an extraordinarily complicated financial picture to untangle if he won the presidency.
His commitment to selling the company stands in stark contrast to the Republican Mr Trump, who refused to fully divest from his business, instead putting his assets in a trust controlled by his two adult sons and a senior company executive. He has continued to make money from his properties. Mr Bloomberg said in 2018, when he was considering a presidential run, that he would consider selling his business if elected.
He retained ownership in the company when he served as New York City mayor from 2002 to 2013, but gave up his title of chief executive.
Mr O'Brien's comment comes amid increasing scrutiny of Mr Bloomberg's wealth and business holdings from his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He will face them on the debate stage for the first time on Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Mr Bloomberg created his company in 1981 after being fired from the investment bank Salomon Brothers with a $10 million severance payment. His new venture created the Bloomberg Terminal, a dedicated computer with proprietary software that allowed Wall Street traders, buyers and sellers to see financial transaction data in real time.
The terminal quickly became a must-have product around the financial world and has been used by entities including the World Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank.
Mr Bloomberg then grew the business to include a financial news arm, which has morphed into a major news wire service.
The outlet has faced criticism for allowing its reporters to cover the campaign but blocking them from reporting in-depth investigations into Mr Bloomberg or his Democratic rivals.
Newsroom leaders did not impose similar restrictions on reporting regarding Mr Trump.
Mr Bloomberg has also faced renewed scrutiny over lawsuits filed by women at his company alleging discrimination or hostile treatment. He has said he will not release women from any nondisclosure agreements they've signed with the company.
Bloomberg entered the presidential race in November and has been steadily climbing in national polls, buoyed by $400 million in advertising.
Worth an estimated $60 billion (Â£46 billion), he is entirely self-funding his campaign.
By spending more than $400 million (Â£307 million) of his own money and largely bypassing his opponents by skipping the early primary states, Mr Bloomberg has rocketed to double-digit support in enough national polls to qualify for both Wednesday night's Democratic debate in Nevada, and next week's debate in South Carolina.
But as his support has risen, so has criticism from his Democratic foes as well as the broader scrutiny of his past comments and record as New York mayor.