Newspaper sold to Asian corporation
Pearson offloads FT to Japan’s Nikkei in £837m deal
Pearson has sold the Financial Times to Japanese media group Nikkei, confirming rumours that have been swirling around the City in recent days. The £837 million deal brings together two financial news operations and is the biggest acquisition by a Japanese media organisation.
The Nikkei newspaper sells 3.12 million copies but owning the FT will provide the organisation, which also lends its name to the stock market in Tokyo, with a global presence.
Pearson, whose portfolio includes Penguin books and educational publications, has owned the FT for 58 years. It was thought the German group Axel Springer or the US agency Bloomberg were the most likely buyers. Springer came within minutes of sealing a deal itself.
The acquisition includes the FT newspaper, FT.com, and titles such as The Banker and Investors Chronicle. But the agreement does not include the FT Group’s London headquarters at One Southwark Bridge, London, and its half stake in The Economist.
The company said that in 2014, FT Group contributed £334m of sales and £24m of adjusted operating income to Pearson.
It said the FT’s total circulation across print and digital rose more than 30% over the last five years to 737,000 with digital circulation growing to represent 70% of the total, from 24%.
John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said: “Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years. But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social.
“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.”
The FT has an editorial team of 500 journalists in more than 50 locations around the world. It was first published as a four-page newspaper in 1888.
In the past two decades Pearson has sold stakes in several of its non-education businesses, including Madame Tussauds, Alton Towers, the Lazard investment banks, its stake in market indices provider FTSE and the Les Echos French media group.