The owner of Britain’s leading business daily, the Financial Times, has agreed to sell the paper to Japan’s Nikkei, the two companies have said. The confirmation put to rest a frenzy of speculation over likely buyers.
The British publishing house Pearson announced on Monday that it would sell the FT Group, including its pink-paged “trophy asset,” the Financial Times newspaper, to Asia’s largest business media conglomerate for 844 million pounds ($1.3 billion).
The deal with Nikkei, which also puts out a flagship paper under the same name, does not include the FT Group’s London headquarters or its 50 percent stake in The Economist, Pearson said. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close before the end of the year.
“I just want to be clear this was not and is not a shotgun marriage. There have been deep, hours of conversation,” FT Editor Lionel Barber said at a staff meeting following the announcement, according to an FT journalist who was live-tweeting the event.
Pearson’s chief executive, John Fallon, said his company had been the proud owner of the FT for nearly six decades but that in today’s news 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.”
Indeed, the sale to Nikkei marked the joining of two of the world’s leading European and Asian news operations.
The chairman and group CEO of Nikkei, Tsuneo Kita, said he was “extremely proud” to be teaming up with the FT.
“We share the same journalistic values,” said Tsuneo Kita, Mikkei’s chairman and CEO. “Our motto of providing high-quality reporting on economic and other news, while maintaining fairness and impartiality, is very close to that of the FT.”
Nikkei Inc’s flagship newspaper, The Nikkei, has a readership of more than 3 million people for its morning edition alone.
The announcement followed widespread speculation in the media, including from the FT itself, which had reported online that it would likely be sold to Germany’s Axel Springer, citing “several people familiar with the situation.”
After Pearson said earlier on Thursday that it was weighing a sale of the FT Group, some of the names that had been most closely linked to a deal were Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters.
The sale put to rest years of speculation over whether the 171-year-old British publisher was looking to let go of the iconic newspaper it acquired in 1957.
cjc/sri (Reuters, AP, dpa)