Deal-Hungry Gannett Eyes FT

03 December 2003

US newspaper giant Gannett is on the lookout for major acquisitions, with Britain's Financial Times near the top of its list.

According to ceo Douglas McCorkindale (quoted in investment title Barron's), the company is looking for assets that would fit in with its current titles. And the FT, if current owner Pearson decides to offload it, would fit the bill.

"If the Pearson group wanted to sell the Financial Times, I'd look at it very closely," McCorkindale revealed.

Gannett -- which publishes leading stateside daily USA Today and owns Britain's Newsquest regional paper group -- is considered well positioned to make acquisitions, having reduced its debt in recent months to $4.2 billion (€3.5bn; £2.4bn), down from a high of $5.7bn. McCorkindale said he is also interested in Dow Jones, owner of the Wall Street Journal.

There has been no shortage of rumour about the future of the FT, which has suffered from the severe recession in financial advertising and a decline in circulation. Ad revenues fell 18% for the first half of 2003, helping to push Pearson to a £1 million pre-tax loss.

Pearson, however, has repeatedly dismissed talk of a sell-off.

Data sourced from: BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff