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Business paper tempting buyers

FT ‘for sale’ with £1billion price tag

Financial TimesThe Financial Times newspaper is once again rumoured to be up for sale after owner Pearson reported interest from potential buyers.

Sources have told the news agency Bloomberg that the daily could fetch as much as £1 billion, a price that will raise eyebrows at a time of declining sales of newspapers.

However, the FT’s value is most likely to be in its data and other IP as well as its worldwide influence.

Interested parties are thought to include global media companies such as Germany’s Axel Springer SE as well as wealthy investors looking for a trophy purchase.

However, there is no formal sale process under way and some believe Pearson has no desire to sell the paper.

Rumours about the sale of the FT have been spreading since Pearson indicated it was re-focusing its activities. It sold financial news service Mergermarket for $624m in 2014.

The 127-year-old FT is now part of Pearson’s professional education unit that reported £1.15bn in 2014 revenue.

The Financial Times saw a sharp increase in profits in 2014, driven by growth in subscription and digital revenues and a record high circulation.

It points to a report from Deloitte which claims the FT has a total circulation of nearly 720,000 across print and online, up 10% year-on-year. Digital now represents 70% of this total paying audience. FT.com subscriptions grew 21% to almost 504,000. Mobile is the fastest growing channel, driving almost half of total traffic.

The paper says circulation gains were underpinned by a “resilient advertising performance”, with the FT taking market share globally.

How To Spend It, the FT’s luxury lifestyle magazine, marked its 20th anniversary in 2014 and attracted record advertising revenues, bucking the trend in a challenging climate.

Independent measurement points to a weaker position, at least for the printed version. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for May, fewer than 36,000 copies were purchased in the UK by consumers paying full price Monday to Friday, compared with 66,076 five years ago and 92,487 in October 2008 as the financial crisis hit.

The remainder of the current total UK print circulation of just 69,000 is made up of 6,000 personal subscriptions, 4,000 corporate subscriptions, and 23,000 distributed in bulk discount deals with airlines and hotels.

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