Behold, Financial Times’ Newest Owner

The Financial Times, one of the most recognized international dailies, has a new owner.

Pearson PLC has agreed to sell the FT Group, which includes the widely recognized pink newspaper, luxury lifestyle magazine How to Spend It, and a collection of specialist titles including The Banker, to Japan-based Nikkei Inc., the largest business media group in Asia for 844 million pounds (about $1.3 billion). The deal marks the end of an almost 60-year ownership for the London-based organization. With Nikkei taking over FT, Pearson will be concentrating on its core business – it educational textbook and publishing unit.

Themenbild NewspaperImage source: folio

The sale did not come as a surprise to industry observers. There were rumors that Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, and Germany’s Axel Springer were showing interest in the acquisition. Although Pearson’s former chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino insisted that FT will never be sold, her successor, John Fallon, never made any declaration when he took over in 2013.

The current media landscape, which highlights the importance of a digital strategy, was the primary consideration for the FT sale. “In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company,” said Fallon in a statement. For his part, Nikkei’s chairman and CEO Tsuneo Kita said that he is extremely proud to team with FT, and Nikkei’s “motto of providing high-quality reporting on economic and other news, while maintaining fairness and impartiality” is similar to that of FT’s.

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FT was first published as a four-page newspaper in 1888 and was acquired by Pearson in 1957. FT’s circulation currently stands at 737,000, 70 percent of which is composed of digital subscribers. It has recorded an increase in digital subscription for the past years. Print circulation, however, has been slipping.

The deal does not include Pearson’s 50 percent stake in The Economist, the business and current affairs weekly, as well as FT’s headquarters in central London. The sale, which is payable in cash, will still be subject to regulatory approval. Pearson expected the deal to be finalized by the fourth quarter of 2015.

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