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Financial Times sold to Japan's Nikkei for £844m

Published 23/07/2015

Talks are under way which could lead to the sale of the Financial Times Group
Talks are under way which could lead to the sale of the Financial Times Group

Financial Times owner Pearson has agreed to sell the newspaper to Japan's Nikkei for £844 million.

Pearson has owned the Financial Times since 1957.

The sale does not include the FT Group's property at One Southwark Bridge, where it has its headquarters, and its 50% stake in The Economist.

The cash deal is subject to regulatory approval and expected to complete in the fourth quarter of this year.

Pearson chief executive John Fallon 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.

"Nikkei has a long and distinguished track record of quality, impartiality and reliability in its journalism and global viewpoint. The board and I are confident that the FT will continue to flourish under Nikkei's ownership".

Pearson shares rose 2% after it confirmed earlier today that it was in advanced talks about the sale of the newspaper.

The group has become the world leader in education publishing and Mr Fallon said it would now be entirely focused on this sector.

It said its sale of the newspaper group would see £90 million contributed to Pearson's pension plan and a tax charge of about £60 million, with the rest of the proceeds used "for general corporate purposes and investment in its global education strategy".

Pearson said the FT had seen circulation across print and digital rise more than 30% over the last five years to 737,000.

The FT Group contributed sales of £334 million and adjusted operating income of £24 million in 2014.

Nikkei, Asia's largest independent business media group, owns flagship newspaper Nikkei and other operations ranging from books and magazines to digital media, database services and broadcasting.

Chairman and chief executive Tsuneo Kita said: "I am extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organisations in the world.

"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.

"We share the same journalistic values. Together, we will strive to contribute to the development of the global economy."

The deal sees the respected pink pages of the FT fall in to foreign hands after more than a century at the heart of London's financial community.

Founded in 1888, it began being printed on pink paper five years later.

The name of the City's leading share index owes its origins to the newspaper, beginning life as the Financial Times Stock Index 100 in the 1980s.

However it is now simply known as the FTSE 100 and owned entirely by the London Stock Exchange Group.

Regular speculation about the sale of the FT has been a City fixture for a number of years culminating in today's announcement, which comes a day before Pearson is due to publish half-year results.

Pearson had disclosed earlier today that it was in talks with an unnamed potential buyer, resulting in strong speculation that Germany's Axel Springer would take over the newspaper.

It prompted a denial from the conglomerate, which owns newspapers Bild and Die Welt, shortly before the announcement on Nikkei.

Former Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino once said the paper would be sold "over my dead body" but she was replaced by Mr Fallon two years ago.

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