The sale doesn't include Pearson's 50% stake in the Economist Group and some London property, Pearson said Thursday. Axel Springer, publisher of Germany's Bild-Zeitung tabloid, was also in talks over the assets, according to people familiar with the matter.
First published in 1888 as a four-page newspaper, the FT's circulation reached 720,000 last year, with digital subscriptions accounting for 70% of the total. In a move to make more money from online readers, the newspaper in February tweaked its paywall system, moving away from a metered model that allows readers to view a few free articles every month before requiring them to pay.
"We've reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social," Pearson Chief Executive Officer John Fallon said in a statement. "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."
A sale of FT Group would allow Mr. Fallon to focus on tackling a slowdown in the education unit weighed on by declining U.S. college enrollments and falling textbook sales. The FT Group had 2014 revenue of 334 million pounds and 24 million pounds in adjusted operating profit.
Pearson said it plans to put about 90 million pounds of the proceeds into its pension plan.
~ Bloomberg News ~