Japanese media giant Nikkei has struck a deal to buy the Financial Times Group from publisher Pearson for £844 million in cash.
The agreement sees Nikkei take ownership of the Financial Times newspaper, FT.com and Financial Publishing, which includes The Banker and Money-Media, among others. Pearson's 50% share in the Economist Group and the FT’s London headquarters are not part of the deal.
Confirmation of the sale - slated to close in Q4 subject to regulatory approval - came after a day of speculation, which saw German publishing group Axel Springer initially touted as the most likely buyer for one of the world's most prestigious business newspapers.
The FT has seen its circulation across print and digital rise more than 30% over the last five years to 737,000, with digital circulation growing to represent 70% of the total and mobile driving almost half of all traffic. Its successful implementation of a paywall has seen the paper weather the transition to the digital era better than most papers, helping it contribute to FT Group sales of £334 million in 2014.
However, John Fallon, chief executive, Pearson, says: "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."
Having offloaded its stakes in Interactive Data and FTSE International over the last few years, Pearson will now be "100% focused on our global education strategy," says Fallon. shares in the firm
Tsuneo Kita, chairman and group CEO, Nikkei, Japan's largest media group, says: "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."