Business

Financial Times deal battle 'went down to the wire'

The Financial Times logo sits on display outside the headquarters Image copyright Getty Images

A bidding war for the Financial Times saw a last minute battle between Germany's Axel Springer and eventual winner, Japan's Nikkei, the FT reports.

The Japanese media giant managed to trump Axel Springer with an "eleventh hour bid", the FT said.

Meanwhile FT publisher Pearson reported a first half loss of £115m compared with £36m a year earlier.

Pearson blamed a £70m balance sheet write down related to selling its US PowerSchool business.

Its shares closed down 0.6% at £12.26 despite increasing the dividend.

10 minutes to go

Axel Springer had wooed Pearson for a long time to be in a position to make an offer for the FT, whereas Nikkei only began its courtship five weeks ago, the FT said.

In a dramatic last minute flurry, Nikkei managed to clinch the deal in the final 10 minutes of discussions, it added.

Nikkei - an abbreviation of "Nihon Keizai Shinbun" which means "Japanese Economic Newspaper" - is a widely respected Japanese business publication.

The broadsheet dominates Japanese-language business media with 3.16-million paid subscribers, of which 430,000 are online.

The Japanese newspaper had been trying to break into English-speaking international markets for decades, but had not enjoyed wide success outside of Japan.

Publishing group Pearson announced on Thursday that it had agreed to sell the Financial Times Group to Nikkei for £844m.


Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology editor

Financial Times journalists seem somewhat shell-shocked by yesterday's turn of events, but relieved to be told by their leaders that the new owners are committed to editorial independence and to growing the business.

As a former editor Richard Lambert told the BBC, having paid such a high price, Nikkei would be crazy to do anything to damage the newspaper.

He also praised Pearson for having been a model owner, although there have been whispers from some at the Financial Times that its parent never invested quite enough in growth.

It has decided that its future lies in education and the FT will grow faster in the hands of a wealthy and focused new owner.

The short-term gain may have pleased its shareholders, but yet again a UK company has decided to sell up rather than build a global digital business.

Read Rory's full blog here

FT's new owner Nikkei eyes digital success

How the Financial Times has rolled with the times


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