Tag Archives: Financial Times


What can Bloomberg do with the FT?


Kevin Roose of New York magazine writes about three things that Bloomberg L.P. could do with The Financial Times if it acquired the business newspaper, as has been speculated.

Here is one of them:

1.) Combine the FT with Bloomberg Markets.
Bloomberg Markets — the monthly trade magazine that is given away free to all Bloomberg terminal subscribers — is the unsung hero of the Bloomberg media empire. It gets much less buzz than its stepsister publication, Bloomberg Businessweek, primarily because it’s a stodgier brand, not nearly as well designed and laid out, and less accessible to a nonfinancial audience. But some of its long-form investigative journalism, like this month’s expansive profile of Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler, is exactly the kind of thing the FT — with its emphasis on short, jumpless stories written in inverted-pyramid structure — is missing.

If Bloomberg bought the FT, he could either make Markets a monthly insert (sort of like the New York Times does with T). Or, better yet, he could fold Markets entirely and move its writers and editors onto the staff of FT Magazine, the supplement that is already included with the U.K. and Ireland editions of the paper on the weekends.

Bloomberg may not want the FT to contain more long-form journalism. He apparently considers short, snappy stories an asset, not a liability. But he already has a news organization that excels at deal scoops and other to-the-point business stories, and he’s set up to deliver them instantly to trading floors around the world. And he already has a buzzy, general-audience magazine. The obvious hole is something that would be more technical than Businessweek but have the wider distribution of a general-audience publication. Making Bloomberg Markets the FT‘s long-form arm could bolster the paper’s credibility among the Wall Street crowd with minimal hassle.

Read the other two here.


FT or LinkedIn for Bloomberg?


Felix Salmon of Reuters ponders Monday whether acquiring the Financial Times or LinkedIn would be better for Bloomberg.

Salmon writes, “The purchase of the FT would basically be a soft-power move. Bloomberg has a stated aim of becoming ‘the world’s most influential news organization’, and the FT would be a helpful fill-in acquisition on the road to that goal. Bloomberg’s influence started in the financial markets, but the company has become more ambitious than that, so it’s investing other ways of reaching important people who might not have any need or desire to spend $20,000 a year on a Bloomberg terminal. And the investment in news outside the Bloomberg wire is paying off: Bloomberg TV got the first Obama interview after the election, for instance, while Bloomberg Businessweek had that juicy interview with Tim Cook.

“Still, the FT is a news product, which would fit within the broader Bloomberg News operation, and wouldn’t really alter the mission or the economics of the company as a whole. Bloomberg makes its money selling terminals to Wall Street, and it sells those terminals as a one-stop shop for everything you need, from the Lebanese yield curve to the flight schedule between Rio de Janeiro and Santiago de Chile. One of the things that Bloomberg subscribers want is high-quality news, and thus was Bloomberg News born: its first job is always to give the terminal subscribers the news they’re demanding.

“Buying LinkedIn, by contrast, would involve moving far beyond the terminal and into a much bigger world. Bloomberg’s business has — somewhat amazingly — not yet been disrupted by the internet. To the contrary, Bloomberg has been able to piggyback on the bandwidth revolution, and can now sell terminals in Riyadh as easily as it can in London. But there’s a limit to how many people are willing and able to spend $20,000 a year on an information terminal, especially given how much richness of information can be found on the internet for free. And Bloomberg is running up against that limit. Which means that the company is faced with a choice: either continue to reap the spectacular dividends from the existing franchise, or else try and grow, somehow, beyond the confines of the terminal.

“If Bloomberg opts for growth (and there’s no reason why it should, given that it’s not a public company), then it’s easy to see why LinkedIn could be a very smart way of getting there.”

Read more here.


Bloomberg weighing deal for Financial Times


Amy Chozick and Michael Barbaro of The New York Times write Sunday about how Bloomberg LP is considering purchasing The Financial Times Group.

Chozick and Barbaro write, “Mr. Bloomberg has long adored The Economist, and his affinity for the paper, at least as a reader, has deepened lately. Its bisque-colored pages, once rarely seen in the thick stack of newspapers Mr. Bloomberg carries under his arm all day, have become a mainstay. Friends say he favors its generally short, punchy and to-the-point articles, which match his temperament.

“In October, Mr. Bloomberg visited the London headquarters of The Financial Times, a few blocks away from Bloomberg L.P.’s giant new London complex, which is still under construction. When an editor asked if he would buy the paper, Mr. Bloomberg replied, ‘I buy it every day.’

“He has spoken openly with friends and aides about the potential benefits and pitfalls of making such a costly acquisition in an industry he admires deeply as a reader but sneers at as a businessman, these same people said. And he has recently taken to rattling off circulation figures and ‘penetration’ rates for the paper.”

Read more here.


Head of FT group to step down


Rona Fairhead, chief executive of Pearson’s Financial Times Group and a member of the board of directors of the London-based media conglomerate, will step down in April, reports Amy Chozick of the New York Times.

Chozick writes, “The departures of two executives who had championed the company’s print publishing assets, including The Financial Times newspaper, have fueled increased speculation that Pearson will seek to sell the rose-colored business daily, known as the FT, so that it can focus on its fast-growing education business.

“In October, Pearson reached an agreement with Bertelsmann, the German media company, to combine its Penguin publishing house with Random House. Under the agreement, which is still subject to approval from regulators, Bertelsmann would control 53 percent of the combined Penguin-Random House division.

“Among the companies that analysts have said could make a bid to acquire the FT are Thomson Reuters, which has an editorial staff of thousands, but no print publication. Bloomberg LP could also explore a purchase of the FT to help its journalism gain more exposure outside the financial terminal business. The company also owns Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine. Spokesmen for Reuters and Bloomberg declined to comment when previously asked about a potential bid for the publication.

“A Pearson spokesman, Charles Goldsmith, said Ms. Fairhead’s decision to leave Pearson was ‘completely unrelated to ownership of the FT.’”

Read more here.


FT Deutschland to close next month


The FT Deutschland business newspaper in Germany is slated to close on Dec. 7, Reuters reports.

Reuters writes, “The paper, published in the salmon pink color of its British namesake, is pulling the plug after accumulating what German media said were 250 million euros ($322.1 million) in losses since 2000.

“The FTD, which has faced tough competition from a plethora of established national newspapers since its launch in 2000, has a circulation of about 100,000 but never made a profit.

“Some 330 employees will lose their jobs, sources familiar with the publisher’s decisions said.

“The FTD was seen as a breath of fresh air in Germany with a modern design, international perspective and audacious journalism style.

“It was alone, for instance, in criticizing a long-standing German practice of allowing interviewees to ‘authorize’ – or check – interview transcripts.

“Industry analysts have been predicting the FTD’s demise for years due to its lack of profitability. Losses in the last year were some 10 million euros, German media reports said.”

Read more here.


FT Deutschland could close


Harro Ten Wolde and Peter Maushagen of Reuters report that the Financial Times edition in Germany could be closed.

Ten Wolde and Maushagen write, “Publisher Gruner + Jahr (G+J), controlled by German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, is expected to decide the fate of the FTD at a board meeting on Wednesday but few at the paper doubt what the decision will be.

“‘There is not a single person in the newsroom who believes the newspaper will continue,’ a journalist who has been at the paper since its launch told Reuters.

“Another employee likened the mood to a ‘house of mourning.’

“A G+J spokesman declined to comment.

“The FTD, salmon-pink like its British namesake, has a daily circulation of about 102,000. It was founded as a joint venture with Pearson, but the publisher of the Financial Times sold its 50 percent stake to its German partner in 2008.

“The paper shook up the German print landscape in 2000 with its modern design, international perspective and free-wheeling journalism style.”

Read more here.

FT.com logo

The FT and mobile trends in media


The Financial Times and Muck Rack hosted Thursday a  discussion on mobile trends in media.

Rob Grimshaw, managing director of FT.com, answered questions moderated by Greg Galant, CEO of Sawhorse Media.

Here is an excerpt from the FT’s report on the session:

Creating a digital culture and driving innovation internally were hot topics of discussion and Grimshaw had this to say: “The hardest challenge isn’t tech, but getting companies to adapt to a new way of thinking”.

The audience was keen to understand more about how the FT is trying to reach a younger demographic, to which Grimshaw replied “ Financial Times mobile readers are frequently in their late 20’s/early 30’s”.

This drove the discussion on regionalisation and Grimshaw talked about how the US leads the way in terms of FT content consumption on mobile and how it takes six months for the rest of the world to catch up.

In terms of future plans, social login, Flipboard and an API on FT.com were all mentioned by Grimshaw, as well as the need to collaborate more closely across the business to compete for readers’ attention in a crowded marketplace.

Read more here.


Pearson CFO won’t rule out sale of Financial Times


Pearson Plc said Wednesday  it wouldn’t rule out a sale of the Financial Times as Chief Financial Officer Robin Freestone told investors that the company may eventually re-examine its ownership of the newspaper.

Amy Thomson and Kristen Schweizer of Bloomberg News report, “‘We look at the ownership of that and say, ‘Are we the best owners for it?’’ Freestone said at a conference in Barcelona organized by Morgan Stanley. ‘So far the answer is yes. That could change.’

“Pearson is emphasizing its education business as new Chief Executive Officer John Fallon prepares to take the reins from Marjorie Scardino, who retires in January. The company has decided to consider offers for the iconic pink financial newspaper this year, people with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg News this month. Pearson had denied that the FT is for sale.

“Pearson may also ultimately re-evaluate its minority holding in a venture being set up with Bertelsmann SE to combine the German media company’s Random House with London-based Pearson’s Penguin publisher, Freestone said.”

Read more here.


FT accused of jacking up cover price


Louise Armitstead of The Telegraph in London writes that an analyst that follows Pearson Plc, the parent of The Financial Times, has written a scathing report accusing it of unnecessarily increasing the cover price of the paper and that the FT is not worth as much as what has been reported.

Armitstead writes, “The analyst said that Pearson was likely to sell FT Group to focus on its education business but claimed the newspaper is worth just £150m. With its 50pc stake in The Economist magazine, FT Group could fetch £600m to £700m, even with the so-called ‘trophy asset’, Mr Braley said.

“‘To get to a valuation of £1bn seems to rely on that kind of buyer who might also be in the market for football teams, art, pigs with mystical healing powers and trips into space,’ he said.

“‘That does not seem to us to form any reasonable part of an investment thesis.’

“He added: ‘The issue is simply that the FT isn’t a very profitable business, prospective strategic buyers are limited.’”

Read more here.


FT says it will be primarily digital experience by next Olympics


The Financial Times expects to be primarily a digital mobile experience by the time of the next Olympics, according to FT.com’s leader, Rob Grimshaw.

Arif Durrani of MediaWeek writes, “Mobile already accounts for 25% of FT.com’s traffic and is said to be driving between 15%-20% of all new subscriptions, where iPad users lead the charge. Grimshaw suggests there is potential to grow this over the next year, when the brand will be celebrating an incredible 125 year milestone.

“He says: ‘I don’t think we have fully optimised the experience yet. It still involves putting in credit card details and addresses and such. Someone buying a sub on a mobile device is not a trivial thing, so we’ve been surprised to see so much coming through so quickly.

“‘But we also see it on the usage side of things as well, so if you look at subscribers as a core audience, 30% of their pages views now are coming on mobile devices which is huge. Even if you look at the [user] base as a whole [including non subscribers], it’s over 20% now.’

“The FT’s success in attracting paying digital subscribers made industry headlines this summer, after digital surpassed the 299,000 print subscribers for the first time. Two weeks ago, in the publisher’s latest update, digital subscribers had reached 313,000 in September, up 26% year on year, cementing the brand’s position as a digitally driven operation. It helped lift FT Group sales by 7% for the first nine months of 2012, despite the challenging ad market.”

Read more here.