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The Financial Times sold for £844 million

British publisher Pearson has sold its flagship business newspaper the Financial Times to Japanese digital media group Nikkei.

The FT Group has been sold at £844 million in cash, but will not include the company’s 50% stake in The Economist Group.

Nikkei owns media assets such as its flagship daily newspaper The Nikkei, as well as Channel Japan. The firm has been slowly ramping up its foray into Asia. In 2013, it launched the Nikkei Asian Review, an English-language news service, and in 2014, established an editorial headquarters for Asia in Bangkok. It also launched Nikkei Group Asia in Singapore last year, tasked to spread the Nikkei brand in the region.

The FT Group includes: the FT newspaper, FT.com, How to Spend It, FT Labs, FTChinese, the Confidentials and Financial Publishing (including The Banker, Investors Chronicle, MandateWire, Money-Media and Medley Global Advisors).

A statement from the FT said total circulation across print and digital rose more than 30% over the last five years to 737,000, with digital circulation growing to represent 70% of the total business. Mobile traffic now accounts for almost half of all traffic.

In 2014, FT Group contributed £334m of sales and £24m of adjusted operating income to Pearson. At 30 June 2015, FT Group had gross assets of approximately £250m.

The transaction is subject to a number of regulatory approvals and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015.

John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said that the company had reached “an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social.

“In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.”

Read Fallon’s blog post here.

As for Pearson, it will now be 100% focused on its global education strategy.

“The world of education is changing profoundly and we see huge opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality education globally,” added Fallon.

Tsuneo Kita, chairman and Group CEO of Nikkei, said: “Our motto of providing high-quality reporting on economic and other news, while maintaining fairness and impartiality, is very close to that of the FT. We share the same journalistic values. Together, we will strive to contribute to the development of the global economy.”

Evercore, Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Cazenove acted as financial advisers to Pearson on this transaction.

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