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Bloomberg wants to compete directly with the British press

Bloomberg Media has decided to aggressively court a British audience, the first link in a revised global strategy for the business news giant.

On Wednesday night, executives introduced a company they hope can generate $100 million in annual revenue: Bloomberg UK, a brand intended to compete directly with The Financial Times and The Sunday Times, staples of British corporate journalism.

Bloomberg UK will feature a website, a weekly Bloomberg Quicktake video series profiling British newsmakers, a podcast about the City of London and this year’s summit on the future of British business.

Bloomberg has been in the UK market for three decades, but the new venture is a targeted approach to an untapped audience of at least seven million people in the “professional, affluent space,” said M. Scott Havens, the CEO of Bloomberg Media.

It is the first suspicion of a new international strategy for Bloomberg, which has 176 offices with 2,700 journalists and analysts. By building regional editions in promising markets where it already has an editorial footprint, executives hope to earn new dollars without spending to establish a new headquarters.

Bloomberg UK will make use of the hundreds of journalists already working in Bloomberg’s London newsroom, which is housed in a state-of-the-art office building opened five years ago in the financial district. In an interview, Mr. Havens and John Micklethwait, the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, said their new initiative would require the hiring of dozens of journalists.

The company has in recent months hired BBC presenter Emma Barnett as an interviewer for its Quicktake series; Philip Aldrick, former economics editor of the Times of London; Olivia Solon, a technical research reporter for NBC News; and Alex Wickham, the editor of Politico’s London Playbook newsletter.

“To a degree we hide in plain sight,” Mr. Micklethwait said. “There are other people trying to get into the UK market, but we already have one of the largest newsrooms in London here.”

Justin Smith said he left Bloomberg Media four months ago as chief executive to start Semafor, an online publication aimed at English-speaking, college-educated readers around the world. He teamed up with Ben Smith, a former media columnist for The New York Times, who will become Semafor’s editor-in-chief. Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens said Semafor, which is expected to begin publication this year, has no impact on the timing of Bloomberg’s global strategy.

“We don’t necessarily look at that, but we wish them the best of course,” said Mr. Havens.

Mr. Micklethwait and Mr. Havens, who became CEO after Justin Smith stepped down, jointly presented the initiative in December as part of a broader strategy to Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of Bloomberg LP. He responded enthusiastically, says Mr Havens.

Both executives declined to say how much the company invested in the effort, but Mr Micklethwait said Mr Havens spent “large amounts of money” on journalists, engineering and marketing for Bloomberg UK. Revenue at Bloomberg Media was up 50 percent in 2021 from the previous year, and an additional 21 percent in the first quarter of 2022, Mr. Havens said.

Bloomberg Media has nearly 400,000 digital subscribers, four years after putting a paywall on its websites. More than 40 percent of subscribers are located outside of the United States, with Britain being the second largest market, Mr Havens said.

“At a time when the UK is at risk of following the US down a path to media that is partisan and highly sensational – and experiencing the kind of dire consequences we have seen here in America,” Mr Bloomberg said in a statement. we are expanding our commitment to high-quality, fact-based journalism there, with a particular focus on business and economic news.”

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