Japanese media company buys Financial Times

Nikkei to buy FT from Pearson for £844 million ($NZ1.9 billion)

See also: Editor’s Insight: Japanese join Murdoch at top of business media tree

Pearson has announced it will sell FT Group for £844 million ($NZ1.9 billion) to Japan’s largest financial news company, Nikkei.

The cash sale shows Pearson is continuing to focus on its education publishing business, which accounts for about 75% of its revenue.

The Financial Times says Nikkei’s 11th hour offer for the London-based global news organisation managed to beat Germany’s Axel Springer. The iconic pink newspaper says Axel did not know it had been beaten until 15 minutes before the deal was announced.

Pearson has owned the Financial Times for almost 60 years and generated about 6.8% of its revenue from FT Group.

Former Pearson chief executive Dame Marjorie Scardino, who ran Pearson for the previous 16 years before 2013, once vowed that the FT would be sold “over my dead body.” Her successor, John Fallon, who took over in January 2013, was more prudent, describing the FT as a “highly valued” part of Pearson.

“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,” Mr Fallon says.

The agreement doesn’t include FT Group’s London property at One Southwark Bridge or Pearson’s 50% stake in the Economist Group but does include its joint venture in Vedomosti, a Russian business newspaper.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

Shares rose 2% shortly after the deal was announced and several analysts told the Wall Street Journal it was a sensible move.

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