23rd July 2015
Following wide media speculation Pearson confirmed on Thursday that it has agreed to sell FT Group to Nikkei Inc. for £844m.
The disposal of the FT Group marks the end of Pearson’s 58-year ownership of newspaper. In recent times Pearson has been moving more and more into the provision of education services in North America and emerging markets. Previously it was rumoured that German publishing group Axel Springer was the most likely buyer.
Notably the deal does not include FT Group’s London property at One Southwark Bridge and Pearson’s 50% stake in The Economist Group.
According to Pearson, at the FT total circulation across print and digital rose more than 30% over the last five years to 737,000, with digital circulation growing to represent 70% of the total, from 24%, and mobile driving almost half of all traffic.
In 2014, FT Group, which includes the FT newspaper, FT.com, Investors Chronicle and Investment Adviser, contributed £334m of sales and £24m of adjusted operating income to Pearson. At 30 June 2015, FT Group had gross assets of approximately £250m.
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. Nikkei has a long and distinguished track record of quality, impartiality and reliability in its journalism and global viewpoint. The Board and I are confident that the FT will continue to flourish under Nikkei’s ownership”.
The transaction is subject to a number of regulatory approvals and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015.