Sold! To the last-minute bidder. Nikkei, Japan’s biggest media company, is turning itself into the global leader in business and financial journalism by grabbing the Financial Times from under the nose of the German giant Axel Springer at a cost of 884 million pounds, or more than A$1.7 billion. Nikkei made a last-minute offer overnight to grab the paper and other titles (but not the 50% stake in The Economist) when Springer reportedly thought it had the deal in the bag. Some reports said Springer did not know of the interest from the Japanese giant until the last minute.
The FT reported that Springer had been talking to Pearson, the owners of the paper since 1957, for much of the past year, but Nikkei only appeared five weeks ago. The deal covers the FT newspaper, the FT.com website, and titles such as The Banker and Investors Chronicle, but does not include the FT Group’s London headquarters and the FT Group’s 50% stake in The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist news magazine. The price includes 19 million pounds (around A$40 million of cash on hand at the paper.
It will be the biggest newspaper deal around the world since the old News Corp bought the Dow Jones Co (which owns the Wall Street Journal) in 2007 for more than US$5.8 billion. The purchase continues the trend of newspapers being sold by non-long-term owners, or by owners no longer interested in the print media.
Pearson said on Thursday that FT Group contributed sales of 334 million pounds (close to A$700 million) and 24 million pounds (around A$50 million) of operating profits last year. Nikkei doesn’t release sales and profit figures, but the paper has more than 3.1 million subscribers, of which 430,000 are digital subscribers, according to the group’s English-language Nikkei Asian Review. — Glenn Dyer
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