Michael Bloomberg will sell his financial data company if he becomes US president, according to a spokesperson, as the billionaire looks to assure American voters that his business ties do not pose a conflict of interest.
“As Mike has said numerous times, if elected president in November, he would place the company in a truly blind trust to sell it,” said a Bloomberg LP spokesperson. “Currently, we’re not for sale.”
The statement followed a CNN interview in which Mr Bloomberg’s campaign adviser announced that the candidate for the Democratic party’s nomination would release his tax returns and sell his company if he was elected president.
“There will be no confusion about any of his financial holdings blurring the line between public service and personal profiteering,” Tim O’Brien, Bloomberg campaign adviser, said on Tuesday.
Mr Bloomberg’s bid for the White House has raised questions about the future of his company and drawn attention to Bloomberg’s news coverage of its owner. The 78-year-old told an Iowa radio station in 2018 that in the event of him becoming president, Bloomberg LP “would either go into a blind trust or I would sell it. But I think at my age, if selling it is possible, I would do that”.
He founded the multibillion-dollar company in 1981 and owns 88 per cent of it.
Mr Bloomberg entered the Democratic race almost a year after other candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. But Mr Bloomberg, who is worth an estimated at $62.8bn, has ascended sharply in the opinion polls through an expensive advertising blitz. His campaign has spent more than $400m on advertising, according to Advertising Analytics.
He will make his first appearance in a televised Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday. He qualified for the debate after a new poll released on Tuesday showed him claiming the support of 19 per cent of Democratic voters nationwide, trailing only Mr Sanders, the US senator from Vermont, who polled at 31 per cent.
The former New York mayor’s heavy campaign spending has drawn criticism from his Democratic rivals such as Ms Warren, the US senator from Massachusetts, who alleges that he is “buying the election”.