FT seeks deals to en­hance digital ca­pa­bil­ity


The Fi­nan­cial Times is in talks to buy com­pa­nies that strengthen its digital sub­scrip­tion busi­ness as the news­pa­per cap­i­tal­izes on greater fi­nan­cial sup­port from its new owner, Ja­pan’s Nikkei Inc, FT Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer John Rid­ding said.

The pub­lisher is hunt­ing for com­pa­nies that can “sup­port and ac­cel­er­ate our growth in qual­ity con­tent and, in par­tic­u­lar, are based on digital sub­scrip­tions,” Rid­ding said in an in­ter­viewinNewYork. The com­pany is also in­ter­ested in tech­nol­ogy firms that bol­ster its data an­a­lyt­ics — valu­able for tar­get­ing read­ers with ad­ver­tis­ing and sub­scriber of­fers, he said.

“We have a num­ber of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the ac­qui­si­tion zone on the radar,” Rid­ding said. The news­pa­per de­clined to com­ment on which com­pa­nies it was talk­ing with. “There are some irons in the fire.”

Nikkei bought the Lon­don-based Fi­nan­cial Times a year ago for $1.3 bil­lion af­ter a bid­ding war with Ger­many’s Axel Springer SE. Prior to that, the fi­nan­cial news­pa­per was owned for 58 years by Pear­son Plc, which had fo­cused re­sources on turn­ing around its ed­u­ca­tion busi­ness.

“That left the FT need­ing sup­port in par­tic­u­lar ar­eas of de­vel­op­ment,” Rid­ding said. “Nikkei has been very sup­port­ive of the in­vest­ments we need to make.”

With Nikkei’s back­ing, the FT bought a con­trol­ling stake in Lon­don-based Al­pha Grid in June tomake more branded con­tent, such as cre­at­ing videos for ad­ver­tis­ers.

The Fi­nan­cial Times is get­ting help from Nikkei by com­bin­ing their ad sales teams in Asia to off­set head­winds in the ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket, Rid­ding said. While the out­look for print news­pa­pers in Ja­pan is bet­ter than other parts of the world, Nikkei, which pub­lishes the coun­try’s lead­ing busi­ness daily, is learn­ing from the FT how to adapt to a digital world.

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