February Issue Will Be Last for 'Bloomberg Personal Finance'

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NEW YORK ( -- Bloomberg Personal Finance is 2003's first victim of the sustained ad market downturn.

Staffers were informed Jan. 9 that the February issue currently being mailed out to subscribers would be the title's last.

"The prognostics of the category were not good," said Publisher David Wachtel. He added that while the current ad picture had brightened slightly, "we didn't think the [category's] ad market would return to the levels of even three years ago."

Advertiser changes
Mr. Wacthtel singled out "structural changes" in how mutual fund companies advertise -- a reason executives at Time Inc. cited when they shuttered its Mutual Funds magazine in October. Mr. Wachtel said the company was refocusing on what he called its "core customer" -- the professional trader -- which virtually all of Bloomberg's other products focus on.

Bloomberg Personal Finance, which launched in early 1996, was published by Bloomberg L.P., a company most closely identified with its financial information terminals. Bloomberg is 72% owned by Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York. A spokeswoman said the mayor was not available to comment on the closing.

Mr. Wachtel declined to comment on the magazine's specific financial performance, but conceded the title would not be closing if it were profitable.

Redesign touted in release
A tinge of irony colors the closing. Three days previous to staffers being told about the closing, an outside public-relations agency issued a press release touting the redesign that debuted with the February issue. One line of the press release refers to the magazine as "the fastest growing personal finance magazine."

"The timing" of that release, a Bloomberg spokeswoman said, "was not the best." She said the decision to shutter the title came early this week.

The move affects 40 staffers, all of whom, Mr. Wachtel said, will be shifted to other positions in the company. Bloomberg also publishes the magazines Bloomberg Wealth Manager and Bloomberg Markets, and Mr. Wachtel will continue to be publisher of both titles.

Struggling category
Bloomberg Personal Finance's ad pages are not audited by Publishers Information Bureau, but its competitors remain significantly down from past years. For full-year 2002, for instance, Dow Jones' and Hearst Magazines' SmartMoney had its ad pages drop 13.6%, and ad pages for Time Inc.'s Money fell 13.9%. Their declines for the previous year, when compared to the boom year of 2000, were more than twice as steep. The magazine's circulation for the first six months of 2002 was 410,303, up 20.8% from the previous year, but its newsstand sales were off 13.7%.

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