The Significance of the BNA Purchase

Bloomberg announced this morning that it was acquiring the legal publisher, BNA for $990,000,000.

Bloomberg will acquire all 25,116,830 outstanding shares of BNA for $39.50 per share in cash for a total purchase price of approximately $990 million.

It is a key development in Bloomberg’s strategy to challenge Thomson West and Reed Elsevier in the lucrative legal information market.

In Bloomberg’s history, this is only the third acquisition – they bought Businessweek and New Energy Finance in 2009. Bloomberg’s growth has all been internal and organic to date.

Normally, prices aren’t given so this one is revealing – the $990 million price reflects premium multiples paid (P/Revenue of 2.9x, EV/EBITDA of 14.5x, and P/E of 32.6x on a LTM basis).

So why? Essentially this is about access to a new customer base, but even more than that, it adds content to Bloomberg Legal, when content is what it will need to take on the established incumbents. BNA’s customer base fits nicely with Bloomberg’s.

The Company counts amongst its customers the250 largest law firms, 98% of the top 100 accounting firms, 97% of Fortune 500 companies, and a substantial number of large and mid-sized law firms. In law firms alone, BNA serves over 5,500 firms with an estimated 205,000 attorneys. BNA reported revenue of $331 million in 2010. BNA is completely employee-owned, and is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, where most of its 1,465 employees are located.

Here is what the FAQs said:

Together, Bloomberg and BNA will be a unique combination of premium content, deep subject matter expertise, proprietary data and world-class technological capabilities to provide distinctive products and solutions for professionals and decision makers in law, government, business and finance.

This acquisition would immediately strengthen Bloomberg’s offerings in the legal information market by complementing Bloomberg Law – the only legal research system that fully integrates primary research, dockets, company information and proprietary news – with BNA’s trusted legal, tax and regulatory content.

The acquisition would significantly grow Bloomberg’s presence in the Washington, DC area through its multiple operating units, Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Government, Bloomberg Law and BNA — which would work together to provide unparalleled coverage and analysis of U.S. policy and regulatory issues for customers.

BNA will benefit from Bloomberg’s technology and data expertise as well as the significant analytical and news reporting resources of the company, including Bloomberg Briefs, Bloomberg Industries and Bloomberg News, among others.

And a legal publisher founded by David Lawrence in 1929 will be no more.



  1. Now if Bloomberg were to acquire Wolters Kluwer, they would be a serious contender in this market