The owners of the Financial Times are looking to sell the newspaper in a deal that could see it change hands for more than €1.25bn, it was revealed today.
Pearson, the FTSE 100 media group, is planning to explore a sale of the financial daily newspaper within months, Bloomberg reported, so that the company can focus on its fast-growing education division.
Dame Majorie Scardino, the chief executive of Pearson, once said famously that the FT would be sold “over my dead body”. But sources said the company had decided to start the sale process before she steps down at the end of the year.
Investment bankers and analysts have been predicting the FT’s sale since Dame Marjorie announced her retirement. Her successor, John Fallon, has refused to rule out a sale.
The revelation of the prospective newspaper sale comes just days after Pearson agreed to merge Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House in a deal to create the world’s biggest book publisher. Since Penguin had been owned by Pearson for 70 years, the deal was taken by analysts as proof that the media company was ready to take radical strategic decisions.
The Financial Times is thought to be worth €1.25bn but could be worth as much as €2.5bn as a “trophy asset”, despite its falling readership.
Potential bidders include: Michael Bloomberg, the owner of the Bloomberg media group; David Thomson, of Thomson Reuters; and Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation. A sale could trigger a bidding war between the business media rivals. It could also attract wealthy bidders from the Middle East or Russia.
The newspaper is part of the FT Group, which also owns The Economist magazine, and accounts for 8pc of Pearson’s revenues and 12pc of its profits.
Pearson has said it wants to focus on building its education division, which, driven by Dame Marjorie, has become the group’s core business, accounting for 80pc of its profits. Over the past 12 months, Pearson has spent more than £750m on 10 acquisitions in the education industry.
Last night, a Pearson spokesman said: “We have said many times that the FT is a valued and valuable part of Pearson... this particular Bloomberg story is wrong.”
The company’s shares closed at £12.40, up marginally on the day.
Louise Armitstead, Telegraph.co.uk