Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Pearson Says FT 'Not For Sale' On Report Of Thomson Reuters Interest

Posted by Tom Foremski - February 9, 2012

Michael Wolff, a New York City based columnist for the UK newspaper The Guardian, writes that a source at Thomson Reuters has said that the giant news and information services firm is talking to Pearson about buying the 121 year old newspaper.

... my original source, now settled in at the office: "How solid is this?" After the sinking sensation of realizing that foot may have been put in mouth, the source shuts the office door and says: "Solid. Solid. Really. Still at an informal level of conversation …" – a slight retreat – "but in clear discussions."


The logic of a Thomson Reuters takeover of the Financial Times | Michael Wolff | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson, has said in the past that she would never sell the FT. Pearson has changed its holdings and is now focused on educational markets.

Pearson's Twitter feed backs up the CEO's position with the following statement: "The FT is a very valued and valuable part of Pearson. It is not for sale."

However, Ms. Pearson is 64, and retirement looms. Her successor might not feel bound by her prior statements that an FT sale would be "over my dead body."

If Thomson Reuters did purchase the Financial Times, it would probably dismantle the FT's global network of news bureaus because it has its own. In places such as Tokyo, New York, and San Francisco, the logical move would be to stop paying for very expensive office space.

A second move would be to severely limit the FT's expensive practice of sending its London-based correspondents to live in other countries for five years or more, paying for their families to move, and subsidizing housing and school fees for children.

Thomson Reuters has its own global network of offices and correspondents. I would assume that office facilities would be consolidated as soon as their leases run out, and local news teams would be merged and FT correspondents likely repatriated to FT HQ at the South end of Southwark Bridge in London. It's a cold and dreary prospect for correspondents that have spent decades abroad.

The savings on operational costs would be significant and there should be no loss of quality in the newspaper's output.

The same scenario would likely occur if Bloomberg were to purchase the FT, except it would probably be faster.


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