Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

Financial Times sale - the deal few in London saw coming

By Chris Peterson (China Daily) Updated: 2015-07-25 09:19

When the rabbit came out of the hat, it was the Japanese news and digital media empire Nikkei, that absolutely no one in London's Anglo-Saxon orientated media world had predicted; it said it would shell out $1.31 billion, with Pearson agreeing to add around & 90 million to the FT's pension fund.

The FT's sale to Asia's largest media group is the latest in a long line of British icons that have fallen into foreign owners' hands.

Upmarket car brands Rolls Royce and Bentley are now owned by Germany's BMW and Volkswagen respectively, Land Rover and Jaguar are the property of India's Tata Group, China's Geely Group owns the company that makes distinctive London taxicabs, fellow Chinese automakers are starting to supply the city's distinctive red double decker buses, The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers, as well as the lurid Sun tabloid daily, long ago fell into the hands of Australian turned naturalized American Rupert Murdoch, and Reuters, the long-established British-based international news service, was gobbled up, much to the journalistic establishment's dismay, by Canada's Thomson family.

So what's left in the UK media world? Well, the weekly Observer and The Guardian remain under control of a British trust, The Daily Telegraph is firmly in the grip of the secretive British Barclay brothers, while The Independent and its I spinoff are owned by a Russian oligarch.

So what will change for the FT and its average daily readership worldwide of 2.2 million, and the highly successful, which has 4.5 million users?

There have been hints, no more than that, which suggested Pearson was considering getting rid of the paper edition. And what is sure is that had Bloomberg, Reuters or Springer acquired it, there would have been job cuts. But the Japanese group seems to have wanted to buy a thriving business.

For now, I think the newspaper's 400 or so journalists can probably rest easy in their beds tonight. But you know, new owners often can't resist tinkering with their new this space.

Chris Peterson is the managing editor for China Daily Europe, based in London. He worked for Reuters and then Bloomberg for over 40 years before joining China Daily. The views expressed here are his own.

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