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Will New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg run for president in 2008?
With millions of Americans already tiring of the declared front-runners, there's no doubt that Bloomberg's rumored presidential run was discussed at many barbeques this past weekend. And, with Mayor Mike's recent visits to states most notable for their big blocks of electoral votes, he's doing little to dampen the speculation.
Fortunately for Bloomberg — who can finance his own campaign, and even run as an independent — time is a luxury he can well afford. The pressure to announce a presidential run is being felt by Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson, but it's a far less concern for the Big Apple's popular mayor.
While Bloomberg can clearly wait out the summer (and even the fall), a different kind of pressure may force him to show his hand, due to the deal-making frenzy that has gripped Wall Street. In the spring of 2007, Bloomberg L.P., the namesake financial information company the mayor created, is one hot commodity.
How hot? Just look at the price fetched by its far weaker rival Reuters this month, and you get an idea of the price privately-held Bloomberg might fetch in the open market. Thomson Financial is shelling out more than $17 billion to buy Reuters, the news and financial service. It's a price investment bankers say has done more than just set the floor under the premier company in the sector — the one with a 33 percent market share, the one founded by hizzoner.
Bloomberg is considered to be the trophy property in this hedge fund crazed world. In fact, it's a turbo-charged play on hedge fund mania. Every newly-christened fund is an automatic Bloomberg customer, and another source of monthly fees that add up to a reported $5 billion in revenues per year.
With a 72 percent stake in his euphonious venture, such a sale would accomplish many things for Mayor Bloomberg. In addition to securing a billing as the richest New Yorker, a sale would clear the deck for a presidential run and pave the way for Bloomberg's ambitious philanthropic agenda.
As recently as last fall, the mayor declared that he was planning to keep his Bloomberg stake — spurning entreaties from at least a handful of private equity players. But will Mayor Mike turn his back on a top-dollar offer this summer that might not surface again for years to come? The buzz on Wall Street is that there are plenty of eager suitors.
One of those could be none other than the Oracle of Omaha — Warren Buffett — who recently tantalized investors with veiled suggestions that he was in the market for a huge acquisition. Bloomberg L.P., with its enviable cash flow, would fit perfectly with Buffett's investment philosophy. And just think of the synergies — a Bloomberg in every Buffett-owned NetJet.
While Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway may be the most intriguing of the potential suitors, it's not the only company on Wall Street's dance card. Among the other companies that might make a good fit: General Electric, Goldman Sachs, McGraw-Hill or Merrill Lynch (which already holds a 20 percent stake). The same huge private equity players who've approached the mayor in the past are surely still pounding at the gate as well.
Of course, the mayor may not run and may not sell. Or he could run and try to hold on to his company. But politics aside, now may be the best time for Bloomberg to cash in on Bloomberg.
Terry Keenan is anchor of Cashin’ In and is a FOX News Channel business correspondent. Tune in to Cashin' In on Saturdays at 11:30am and find out what you need to know to make your money grow and keep what you already have!