AFP/ New York
US billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is mulling an independent bid for the White House, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The 73-year-old businessman is drawing up plans for a potential run on a third-party ticket for which he is prepared to spend $1 billion of his personal fortune, the Times said, citing anonymous sources briefed on the matter.
The Republican-turned-independent sees a potential opening should Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders -- who is surging in polls -- win their parties' nominations, the sources said.
The mogul has set a deadline for a final decision for early March, the Times reported, which would give him enough time to qualify to appear on ballots in the presidential election.
Bloomberg, who served as New York mayor for a record 12 years until January 2014, is remembered for his aggressive public health policies, like banning smoking in bars and restaurants, and limiting consumption of sugary drinks.
He also won plaudits as a campaigner for tighter gun laws while overhauling the city waterfront, widening green spaces, launching the popular city-bike program and restoring business optimism after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Forbes magazine ranks him as the 14th richest person on the planet, with a total net worth of $35.5 billion.
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