Nikkei seeks global digital powerhouse with $1.3bn FT purchase
Nikkei will use its $1.3 billion purchase of the Financial Times to build a global digital powerhouse by using data to win new clients and by harnessing the British newspaper's skill at getting subscribers to pay for content, its chairman said.
As the biggest international acquisition by a Japanese media organisation to date completes, Nikkei Chairman Tsuneo Kita told Reuters he would guarantee the independence of the salmon-pink title by giving his word about not meddling.
"Our management objectives at Nikkei are global and digital - those are the two key words - and so for the future, in order to grow as global media and to further promote our digital media business, the best partner is definitely the FT," Kita said.
"We wish to expand our market," Kita said through a Japanese translator in an interview at the FT's Southwark Bridge offices in central London.
Ranked as one of the world's most authoritative newspapers, the Financial Times commands strong loyalty from its readers in Europe and was one of the first newspapers to successfully charge for access to its website.
Established in 1884 and first printed on pink paper in 1893 to stand out from rivals, the FT has employed some of the leading figures in media and politics, including Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.
The Japanese group beat Germany's Axel Springer in July to buy the FT from Pearson, which wanted to focus on its bigger education business.
Kita and FT CEO John Ridding dismissed talk of a trophy purchase, saying both Nikkei and the FT saw an opportunity to move beyond the traditional defensive play of some competitors who are trying to shore up their print circulations.
"A lot of news media, particularly traditional news media, has been playing defence," Ridding said in a joint interview.
"But we believe there's a strong opportunity for growth, that we are at the intersection of two of the big global trends of our time which are digital, and particularly mobile, and the globalisation of business."