Rumours are swirling this morning that Pearson (PSO) could consider putting its prize asset, the Financial Times, on the selling block after appointing John Fallon its new CEO, replacing Marjorie Scardino, who is stepping down after sixteen years in the role.
The FT is a unique asset in many ways. It’s one of the few paid online news success stories, due largely to the fact that it’s mostly paid for by companies, not individuals. It’s completely dominant in the UK; you can be sure your content has been read by every UK banker by the time they get to their desk in the morning. It has global reach and employs some top quality journalists.
So, who should buy the FT?
The obvious buyers might include Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters (TRI) and News Corp (NWSA). While News Corp is splitting off its news publishing assets into a new company, the combination of the FT and Wall Street Journal would be hard for Rupert Murdoch to ignore. A major European publisher like Axel Springer (SPR) would likely be interested as well. It's also possible someone like Reed Elsevier could jump in. Yet I don't see many other publishers getting involved. The FT would be a lot to swallow for a company like the NY Times in this market.
But an eventual buyer could come from outside the obvious names. One city analyst quoted in the Guardian story suggests the FT could get bids of as much as £1bn as a trophy buy:
“Who wouldn't want to own the FT. Russian oligarchs, a wealthy Middle Eastern owner would get more status than owning a football team.”
Whom do you think might be the best suitor for the FT? Add your thoughts in the comments.