A £1bn sale of the Financial Times is under active consideration, Bloomberg said today – only for the story to be immediately denied by its owner.
Pearson, the FTSE 100 media group, issued a statement in response to the article saying that, though ‘not in the habit of responding to rumours, speculation or reports about our portfolio’, it was obliged to point out that ‘this particular Bloomberg story is wrong.’ Dame Majorie Scardino, the outgoing chief executive of Pearson, once said famously that the FT would be sold ‘over my dead body’ but her impending departure from the company in January lends added credence to the report, as does the fact that the story comes just weeks after Pearson agreed to merge Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House in a deal to create the largest book publisher in the US and the UK.
The Bloomberg report suggests the sale would come in order to prioritize its faster-growing education business, with anonymous sources touting the rather arbitrary figure of £1 billion. Whilst speculation at this stage is comprised largely of such back-of-the-envelope calculations, it is clear that Britain’s flagship daily financial newspaper might attract some high-profile potential buyers were it to be put up for sale. Michael Bloomberg, the owner of the Bloomberg media group, David Thomson, of Thomson Reuters, and Rupert Murdoch, the boss of News Corporation, have all been mentioned in the light of a possible acquisition.
‘We have said many times that the FT is a valued and valuable part of Pearson,’ the company insisted last night. Such protestations will do little to quell speculation that such a sale might well be in the offing, and in the very near future to boot.