Update: Pearson sells FT to Japanese publisher Nikkei for $1.3 billion

So much for all the speculation of “is the FT really up for sale?” or “Axel Springer set to purchase the FT” – Pearson announced today that it will sell the FT Group to Japanese publisher Nikkei Inc. for £844 million ($1.3 billion), bringing together two seemingly strong financial news companies from Europe and Asia.

by WAN-IFRA Staff | July 24, 2015

[UPDATE: Friday, 24 July]: The Financial Times published its 2015 half-year results today reporting that revenues and profits grew, primarily driven by digital growth. The report said: “Digital content revenues increased by double digits year on year, and content and services accounted for the greatest proportion of total revenues. Total circulation across print and online increased 9% year-on-year to 737,000, with digital subscriptions rising 14% to almost 520,000, lifted by the new access model offering paid trials.”

Both the FT and Bloomberg reported of the supposed down-to-the-wire battle between Nikkei and Axel Springer for the FT.

[ORIGINAL: Thursday, 23 July]:

The sale does not include Pearson’s 50 percent stake in The Economist Group, as well as the FT Group’s London property, according to Pearson. The transaction is subject to a number of regulatory approvals and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015.

There was rampant speculation this week over the sale of the FT, intensifying mid-day today when it was reported by Reuters and the FT itself that Axel Springer was in advanced talks with Pearson to buy the FT. But the Germany media conglomerate soon denied it with this short press release: “On the background of today’s media reports Axel Springer SE rejects speculations regarding an acquisition of the Financial Times Group and states that Axel Springer SE will not acquire the Financial Times Group.”

Shortly after Pearson announced that Nikkei was indeed purchasing the FT.

It would have been a curious choice for Springer after unloading their regional titles two years ago, but the FT’s strengths with strong global brand, healthy consumer revenue and successful digital transformation as a “legacy publisher” must have proved attractive to a number of suitors.

Axel Springer’s corporate communications office had not returned our phone calls at the time of this post.

The move will now allow Pearson to focus 100 percent on its global education portfolio and strategy, according to Pearson Chief Executive Officer John Fallon.

Besides its flagship Nikkei newspaper, the new Japanese owner has a diverse portfolio in publishing, digital media, data services, broadcasting, research and other services.

“We’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social,” Fallon said in the Pearson statement. “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.”

Tsuneo Kita, Chairman and Group CEO of Nikkei, said in the announcement:

“I am extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organizations 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.

Reaction from the sale:


Mathew Ingram


So Nikkei is buying the Financial Times — must admit I didn’t see that coming: 

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WSJ MoneyBeat


Bernstein says of FT/Nikkei: “It’s a very nice valuation. It’s is more than most people were expecting” 

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Robin Harding


Logging on from holiday to say (a) Wow! and (b) from my dealings with them, I think the Nikkei will be fine owners of the FT.

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Rory Cellan-Jones@ruskin147

Former FT editor Richard Lambert tells me Pearson great owners who never interfered with editorial & invested in growth – hopes Nikkei same

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Andrew Hill


A more-than-full house for Pearson CEO, FT CEO and FT editor @lionelbarber staff briefing on the Nikkei takeover

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32 people are talking about this


Renée Kaplan


FT editor @lionelbarber says to look to nikkei’s track record and Japanese corporate culture as reassurance

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Richard Sambrook@sambrook

Clear from gnomic comments most people haven’t a clue what to make of the FT- Nikkei deal…

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