The flow of reports that Merrill Lynch is close to selling its 20 percent stake in Bloomberg has been picking up… NYP reported this morning that Mayor Bloomberg’s blind trust has offered Merrill Lynch $4.5-$5 billion for its stake. That would value all of Bloomberg at $22.5-$25 billion, which is at the higher end of what’s been estimated. An analysis by the WSJ last year, using the then-independent Thomson as a yardstick, valued the company at $18 billion. That was before Bloomberg’s core customer base, Wall St. firms, began to really suffer and start eliminating seats. An estimate from Fortune late last year pegged Bloomberg at $20 billion. Meanwhile, Charlie Gasparino at CNBC reported that Merill are in talks that are scheduled to go through the end of the week. As for price, he says Merrill initially was looking for $6 billion and that Bloomberg was thinking somewhere around $3 billion. Splitting the difference would get them to $4.5 billion.
Merrill Lynch isn’t in the best bargaining position either. Every day that financial stocks crater and its stock drops — it fell another 9 percent just today — puts more pressure on the company to liquidate non-core assets. In addition to gravity, time is working against the firm, as its earnings are scheduled for July 17, at which point investors will demand some news about its capital position.