The Financial Times has been sold to Nikkei for £844m ($1.3m), with the FT Group’s flagship newspaper and brands including FT.com, The Banker, Investors Chronicle and How to Spend It transferring ownership to the Japanese media group.
Nikkei’s acquisition of the FT Group, which generated £334m in sales and £24m in adjusted operating income in 2014, does not include the the paper’s London property at One Southwark Bridge, nor does it include the group’s 50% stake in The Economist Group.
Before the buyer was revealed this afternoon, speculation, particularly among Financial Times staff, had been leaning towards a sale to German media group Axel Springer.
But Nikkei, the largest independent business media group in Asia with an eponymous flagship newspaper, emerged as the successful suitor.
Pearson, which has owned the FT for nearly 60 years, said that at the FT total circulation across print and digital was up more than 30% over the past five years to 737,000. Digital circulation has become an increasingly dominant part of the mix, up from 24% five years ago, to 70% of total circulation, with mobile driving nearly half of traffic. Content and services accounts for the majority of revenues.
The sale to Nikkei is dependant on regulatory approval and is expected to be closed in the fourth quarter of 2015.
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.
“Pearson will now be 100% focused on our global education strategy. The world of education is changing profoundly and we see huge opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality education globally.”
Fallon said that Nikkei has a strong reputation for quality and impartial journalism.
Tsuneo Kita, Nikkei’s chairman and group CEO, added: “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.”