Is the venerable Financial Times
about to be flogged? There’s feverish speculation in London that the
pink financial newspaper is about to be put up for sale by its owners
Pearson, as this report in theIndependent
on Sunday

says.

Pearson has its annual meeting this Friday, when the board will
come under pressure to sell the ‘pinkun’, which hasn’t had the best of
times recently. Its UK circulation has slumped from around 150,000 to
less than 100,000 a day, even though sales of the international
editions have risen. At 100,000 copies a day in Britain the FT
is selling around 15,000 a day more than Fairfax’s Australian Financial Review
in a market three times the size.

The usual suspects have been rounded up as potential buyers for the FT,
including Rupert Murdoch, The Wall Street Journal
, the Barclay brothers (who bought The Telegraph
in London from Conrad Black) and any number of venture capitalists.

Normally,
this sort of speculation is rather fatuous, but when the Franklin
Group, an institutional holder of 12% of Pearson, last week commented
there was no need for Pearson to own the FT,
speculation started in full, driven by Pearson’s serious financial under-performance in recent years.

Is this a chance for the Packers to show they have the adventurous touch? After all, for years The Bulletin
magazine incorporated The Financial Times
name into its masthead after Consolidated Press snaffled the rights to
the name here (back in the 1960s). Pearson now owns the name in
Australia – but hasn’t had much success printing and selling the paper
here.

Peter Fray

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