Pearson to Sell Financial Times Group to Japan's Nikkei for $1.3 Billion

British publisher Pearson will focus on its educational publishing business.

One of the world's oldest newspapers has a new home.

Pearson revealed on Thursday that it had agreed to sell the Financial Times Group to Japan's Nikkei Inc. for £844 million ($1.31 billion) in cash.

The British publisher said it would be "100 percent focused" on its educational publishing business after parting ways with the financial newspaper, which it has owned since 1957 (the paper itself began life in 1888).

“Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years. But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social," said Pearson's chief executive John Fallon. "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."

Earlier in the day it had been reported that a global digital news company was close to buying the newspaper.

In the past, Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters and German publishing giant Axel Springer have been mentioned as possible suitors for the Financial Times.

“I am extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organizations in the world," said Tsuneo Kita, chairman and Group CEO of Nikkei "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.”

The Financial Times is widely believed to be losing money. The FT Group also owns a 50 percent stake in The Economist Group, among other assets.

Prior to the sale, a key question had been the newspaper's price tag, with Liberum Capital analyst Ian Whittaker saying that rumored figures of $1 billion had been "far too optimistic, especially as we estimate the newspaper does not make a profit."

The deal follows several other major movements of iconic publications over the past few years. In 2014, Amazon's Jeff Bezos swooped in for The Washington Post, founded in 1877, for $250 million, while in 2007 Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. struck a $5 billion agreement to buy The Wall Street Journal, first published in 1889.

Twitter: @georgszalai

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