Pearson explores sale of Financial Times daily newspaper

Pearson Plc, the publisher of Penguin books, is planning to sell the Financial Times daily newspaper after receiving interest from potential buyers, Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Financial Times HeadquartersThe report said Pearson was sounding out possible bidders for the Financial Times and a sale may value the 127-year old newspaper at £1 billion ($1.6 billion).

A sale of the London-based newspaper may draw interest from media companies such as Axel Springer SE as well as investors in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the report added.

Speculation of a possible divestment of the respected financial daily has been in circulation for some years, and in 2012 it denied a Bloomberg report on the sale of the business (See: Pearson denies plans to sell Financial Times).

Founded in 1888 by James Sheridan and Horatio Bottomley, the Financial Times sold 224,000 copies worldwide last year, and although it still is a very popular financial newspaper in the UK, its print circulation in the UK has plunged to less than 40,000.

The Financial Times.com has 4.5 million registered users and over 285,000 digital subscribers, as well as 600,000 paying users.

The Financial Times Group includes the Financial Times, FT.com, FT Search Inc, the book publishing imprint FT Press, a 50-per cent stake in The Economist and several joint ventures including Vedomosti in Russia.

Pearson has been tackling a slowdown in its education business due to declining college enrollments in the US and falling textbook sales.

Armed with over $2 billion it received from 2010 asset sales, Pearson has been investing the money in strategic acquisitions, mainly in China, India, Brazil, Africa and the US.

It entered the English language-training market in China with the acquisition of two companies that cater to the needs of adults and school and college students. It also acquired China's Global Education and Technology Group, for $155 million in cash.

It has also invested in both acquisitions and organic growth in Brazil, Southern Africa and Nigeria.

In 2011, it purchased US online educational services company EmbanetCompass from an investor group led by Technology Crossover Ventures and Knowledge Universe, for $650 million in cash and acquired a controlling stake in Bangalore-based online education firm TutorVista for $127 million.

In 2013, it took full control of Indian vocational training company IndiaCan Education by acquiring Educomp's 50-per cent stake, for an undisclosed sum, and acquired Grupo Multi, an English-language training company in Brazil with over 800,000 students, for £440 million.

It has also invested in both acquisitions and organic growth in Brazil, Southern Africa and Nigeria.