Barely days after partially off-loading Penguin in a merger deal with Random House, the Pearson Group is reported to be looking for a buyer for The Financial Times in order to focus on its fast-growing core education business.
Potential buyers are said to include Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, Thomson Reuters, and the Bloomberg media group which broke the story on Wednesday quoting people “with knowledge of the situation’’. A sale could also attract media groups or individuals from Asia, Russia and West Asia.
Speculation persisted despite a cautious denial by Pearson which said that it was “not in the habit of responding to rumors, speculation or reports about our portfolio, however, this particular Bloomberg story is wrong.”
The FT, regarded as a bible of the business world, is estimated to be worth 1 billion pound sterling but experts said that despite its declining sales it could fetch more because of its prestige value.
The FT Group, which also owns The Economist, accounts for 8 per cent of Pearson’s revenues and 12 per cent of its profits.
Bloomberg claimed that Pearson “may initiate sale preparations ahead of the departure of Marjorie Scardino, the chief executive officer, who is stepping down in January’’.
Ms. Scardino once famously said that the FT would be sold “over my dead body” but John Fallon, who is to succeed her, refused to rule out a sale. Asked about the possibility of its sale recently, he simply said that the FT was a “highly valued and a very valuable part of Pearson.”
Several leading British newspapers are already owned by overseas billionaires. The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun are owned by Mr. Murdoch and The Independent and the Evening Standard by Alexander Lebedev, a Russian businessman and former KGB spy.