British publisher Pearson yesterday denied a report that media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Abu Dhabi’s state media group are in talks to acquire the Financial Times Group for about US$1.2 billion.
The Edge Review, a regional political and business digital magazine based in Malaysia, said the talks had been progressing for more than a month with Pearson, the London-based publishing and education giant.
Such a move would see Murdoch add the respected Financial Times name, as well as 50 percent of The Economist magazine to his vast empire, which already includes the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones.
The Edge Review cited financial executives familiar with the negotiations, saying a decision could be finalized as early as next week.
However, a Pearson spokesman said: “The Financial Times is not for sale, and Pearson is not in any talks to sell it.”
The spokesman added that the Financial Times remained an “important” part of Pearson’s strategy.
The report said financing details and shareholding structure of a new company that would own the Financial Times Group were being worked out, and that as well as the Financial Times and The Economist, the deal also included several high-end financial information services.
An executive familiar with the talks was cited by the Edge Review as saying the Abu Dhabi Media Group was expected to control roughly 75 percent of the venture, with Murdoch picking up the balance.
Murdoch was also negotiating to buy another 25 percent stake at a later date, it said.
In the past, 82-year-old Murdoch’s conglomerate has made a string of high-profile acquisitions, including the Fox broadcasting giant and Hollywood studio.
The report emerged as the tycoon’s media-entertainment conglomerate News Corp prepares to split after US stock markets close yesterday.
The division of the company — which generates about US$34 billion in revenues worldwide — will create two independent, publicly traded companies, both headed in some form by the Australian-born magnate.
Murdoch has said the move will “unlock value” for shareholders by creating one firm focused on high-flying television and film activities, and another on newspapers and other publishing entities.
Murdoch told shareholders on June 11 that the breakup would “unleash the true potential of our quite unparallelled portfolio of assets, brands and franchises.”
The crown jewel has been baptized 21st Century Fox, comprising Fox studios in Hollywood and a global array of cable and broadcasting operations, including National Geographic Channels and Fox Pan American Sports.
It has pay-TV services in Europe and Asia, including Sky Deutschland and Tata Sky.
The “new News Corporation” will include newspapers in Britain, Australia and the US, including the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London.
The company announced the restructuring in June last year, a move partly seen as a nod to shareholders angered by the reputational damage and costs inflicted by a phone hacking scandal in Britain, and partly because of troubles within the group’s publishing arm.