Nikkei pledges to pursue ‘quality growth’ at the Financial Times

Online commentary, video and FT Alphaville set for further investment
Lionel Barber and Tsuneo Kita address the FT newsroom

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Nikkei has pledged to back the expansion of the Financial Times after the Japanese group completed the acquisition of the London-based publisher, bringing together two media groups with a combined history of close to 270 years.

Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei Group, said his employee-owned company would pursue “quality growth” with the FT, not profit through cost-cutting.

“Quality growth generates quality profit,” he said in a reception with staff in London. Mr Kita added that the editorial independence of the news organisation would “never change”.

“Now we begin our journey to making Nikkei-FT the most powerful, most exciting, most exhilarating business media alliance in the world.”

Lionel Barber, editor of the FT, said Nikkei would “invest and deliver a fresh wave of innovation in editorial in 2016”.

He pointed to the development of comment and analysis across digital platforms and the planned investment of greater resources in expanding the FT Alphaville financial blog, using an internal editorial innovation fund.

Video would be a third focus for expansion, he added, as it was a “crucial element of the FT’s text-plus journalism”.

“We will sharpen our offering to give our viewers more of what they want, and develop new forms shaped around what we do best,” he said.

Nikkei struck the deal to acquire the FT for £844m in July, bringing down the curtain on Pearson’s 58-year ownership of the business at a time of upheaval in the global media industry. The acquisition of the FT is the largest international media deal by a Japanese company.

John Ridding, chief executive of the FT, said the deal would prove that “great journalism can be a great business”.

£844m

The sum Nikkei paid for the Financial Times

“The flood of information, misinformation, explosion of channels and sources underline the need for integrity, authority and accuracy, and reinforce the value and importance of our mission,” he said.

“The sustained and expanded success, reach and influence of the Financial Times [will be] driven by quality global growth founded as ever and forever by the highest quality journalism.”

The FT has about 750,000 paid subscribers, of whom 550,000 subscribe on a digital platform. It aims to increase this number to 1m. The flagship Nikkei newspaper has about 3.1m subscribers, and dominates financial news coverage in Japan.

Nikkei has already planned several joint projects with the FT. In December, 600,000 Tokyo-area households that subscribe to the Nikkei will receive an FT sampler, with further projects planned such as special reports, events and co-ordination among journalists on global stories.

Naotoshi Okada, chief executive of the Japanese media group, pointed out on Tuesday that during the secret negotiations in the summer his inner circle dubbed Pearson, “pigeon”, the FT “falcon” and Nikkei, “nest”.

“Welcome to your new nest,” he said, speaking at Nikkei headquarters in Tokyo, in a speech streamed live to the FT in London.

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