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Pearson to sell Financial Times?

MUMBAI: British publisher Pearson is stated to be exploring the sale of its Financial Times (FT) business newspaper after it received interest from potential buyers.

Reports state that Pearson is sounding out possible bidders for the financial daily. A sale may value the business at as much as $1.6 billion.

Bloomberg Business reports that some of the potential buyers include Axel Springer, the German media conglomerate (and Politico Europe partner), as well as ‘investors in Europe, the Middle East and Asia’.

Media reports add that Bloomberg is also a potential buyer.

A sale of the global business newspaper has long been the subject of speculation as Pearson has focused on building its education business.

However, the group maintains the newspaper has a place in its portfolio. In 2012 it denied a Bloomberg story saying it was seeking offers for the business.

A report in the Politico mentions, “If Pearson does truly decide to put FT out for auction, the scuttlebutt is that it would go to the highest bidder, in which case the anonymous ‘investors in Europe, the Middle East and Asia’ – read: China – might take a leading role.”

First published in 1888 as a four-page newspaper, the FT’s circulation reached 720,000 last year, with digital subscriptions accounting for 70 per cent of the total. In a move to make more money from online readers, the newspaper in February tweaked its pay wall system, moving away from a metered model that allowed readers to view a few free articles every month before requiring them to pay.

Last November, CFO Robin Freestone said a sale of the FT wasn’t top priority for Pearson.