Lionel Barber has been appointed editor of the Financial Times, succeeding Andrew Gowers, who edited the FT for the past four years.

Mr Barber, the FT's US managing editor since 2002, said he would build on its reputation for “accurate, credible and thoughtful news, comment and analysis” and its “special relationship” with readers. “Around the world, the FT's reputation has never been higher,” he added.

He quoted Sir Gordon Newton, the newspaper's editor from 1949-1972, saying the FT would continue to provide distinctive, authoritative journalism for “the people who influence and make decisions in business, finance and public affairs around the world.”

Mr Barber emphasised the importance of further expanding the FT's online operations to meet the challenge of a digital revolution which is radically changing reading habits.

Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, the FT's owner, said Mr Gowers was stepping down because of strategic differences with Pearson, but paid tribute to his leadership “during the toughest years on record for business newspapers.”

She added: “As editor he led the integration of print and online media, extended our international reach and steered the FT through the most difficult markets in its history.”

The FT Group has recorded £64m in losses in the past three years after a more than 50 per cent decline in advertising revenues since their peak in 2000. This week, however, Pearson said the division was on course to break even this year after a 6 per cent rise in advertising revenues in the first nine months of 2005.

The newspaper's global circulation fell 10 per cent from 478,538 in December 2001 to 426,806 in June this year, led by a 22 per cent decline in the UK, but it has begun to rise in the UK and elsewhere in recent months. In September, global circulation was 438,538, of which the UK edition accounted for about a third.

Mr Gowers became editor in September 2001 after launching FT Deutschland, the FT's German-language sister paper. Under his editorship, the FT launched an Asian edition, which had a circulation of 36,218 in September, and expanded the audience for to 81,000 subscribers and 4.1m unique users.

Mr Barber, 50, has spent 20 years at the FT in roles including editor of its European edition and news editor. Dame Marjorie said: “Lionel Barber is an outstanding journalist and editor with a passion for business and a global instinct sharpened by his senior roles in the UK, Europe and America.”

Mr Barber, whose father and brother are journalists, began his career as a business journalist on The Scotsman and The Sunday Times, and has worked as a correspondent for the FT in London, Brussels and Washington.

He said on Thursday: “Our strategy is to be the leading provider of business and financial information online and in print in the world, and that is what we're going to do.”

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