Nikkei seeks digital media powerhouse with $1.3 billion FT purchase
By Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) - Nikkei Inc. will use its $1.3 billion purchase of the Financial Times to build a digital media powerhouse by harnessing the English-language newspaper's brand and skill in getting subscribers to pay for premium business news, its chairman said.
As the biggest international acquisition by a Japanese media organization completes, Nikkei Chairman Tsuneo Kita also 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 enjoys strong loyalty from its readers in Europe and was one of the first newspapers to successfully charge for access to its website.
Established in 1888 and first printed on pink paper in 1893 to stand out from rivals, the FT has pioneered the development over the last decade of a profitable subscription-based business model for the online newspaper.
The Japanese group beat Germany's Axel Springer (SPRGn.DE: Quote) in July to buy the FT from Pearson PSON.L, which wanted to focus on its bigger education business.
Kita and John Ridding, the chief executive of the Financial Times, 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. Continued...