UPDATE with official confirmation: Publisher Pearson has confirmed it has sold the Financial Times to Japanese media company Nikkei for $1.3 billion. The education publisher earlier today had said it was in advanced discussions with a then-unknown media company to sell the evergreen (or it should be everpink) business publication in a deal potentially worth up to $1.5 billion. The deal does not include Pearson’s 50% stake in The Economist or its property holding on Southwark Bridge. The deal is for cash.
“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,” said Pearson’s chief executive John Fallon. “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.”
“I am extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organizations in the world,” said Nikkei chairman and group chief exec Tsuneo Kita. “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.”
First published in 1888, the FT is one of the business world’s most-respected platforms, along with the Wall Street Journal. As a point of comparison, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp paid $5 billion to acquire WSJ parent Dow Jones & Co. from the Bancroft family.
In 2012, Michael Bloomberg was reportedly interested in acquiring the FT to merge with his financial data-centric Bloomberg group. Pearson released a statement Thursday confirming that, “Pearson notes recent press speculation and confirms that it is in advanced discussions regarding the potential disposal of FT Group although there is no certainty that the discussions will lead to a transaction. A further announcement will be made if and when appropriate.”
Shares in Pearson rose up 3% upon the news. It has owned the Financial Times for nearly 60 years. The FT has a print and digital circulation of 720,000, according to its latest interim results published in February this year.