BRITISH publisher Pearson is selling its salmon-pink flagship business newspaper, the Financial Times, to Japanese digital media group Nikkei.
Pearson said it was selling the FT Group, which also includes FT.com, for STG844 million ($1.8 billion) in cash.
The agreement does not include FT Group’s 50-per cent stake in The Economist Group, owner of The Economist magazine, or the building where the paper is based in London.
“Pearson has been a proud proprietor of the FT for nearly 60 years,” chief executive John Fallon said in a statement on Thursday.
“But we’ve reached an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. 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.”
Tsuneo Kita, chairman and group CEO of Nikkei, said he was “extremely proud of teaming up with the Financial Times, one of the most prestigious news organisations in the world”.
Nikkei Inc, publisher of the Nikkei business daily, is the largest independent business media group in Asia, according to the company.
The Financial Times has a combined paid print and digital circulation of 720,000, much of which is via its popular subscriber-only FT.com website.
WATCHDOG IN SPOTLIGHT
Asic Review: The nation’s corporate watchdog will be put under the microscope after the federal government announced its first sweeping review of the entity in 17 years.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), which has come under scrutiny for its pursuit of a string of high-profile cases, will be gauged on how it allocates its resources and powers to deliver its remit.
The review — the first since ASIC was born out of the 1998 Wallis Inquiry — has been prompted by a recommendation from the David Murray-chaired Financial System Inquiry for ASIC’s regulatory activities to be funded through a user-pays model.
ASIC’s responsibilities have evolved to cover regulation of the Australian sharemarket, financial services, consumer protection and financial literacy.
The Productivity Commission’s Karen Chester will chair the review, expected to be finished later this year, while former Qld Commission of Audit chief Mark Gray and legal expert David Galbally QC are on the panel.
BAD CHINA NEWS HITS WILTING DOLLAR
Currency: The Australian dollar has slumped to a six-year low after unexpectedly poor Chinese manufacturing figures and battered commodity prices delivered a hammer-blow to the local currency.
Separately, credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s reaffirmed Australia’s coveted triple-A rating but warned
it could be lowered if the
nation failed to stick to its budgetary reforms.
The Aussie was fetching US72.91c late yesterday — its lowest mark since April 2009 — having shed almost US1c after preliminary Chinese manufacturing figures for July revealed activity had slumped to a 15-month low.
The Aussie was already on the back foot after a host of key commodities, including iron ore, crude oil, aluminium and copper lost ground on Thursday. Foreign exchange experts
said the currency now had enough factors to fall below US70c this year.
“The mix of poor Chinese data, weak commodity prices and the prospect of an AA rating seems like the perfect storm for Aussie dollar depreciation,” IG Markets strategist Chris Weston said.
The dollar yesterday crumbled against other currencies too, slipping to ¥90.3 and below 47 British pence for the first time
since March 2009 in a
hit for travellers.
Westpac chief currency strategist Robert Rennie said risks of a drop towards US70c “are building”.
Meanwhile, falling resources and banking stocks hit the local market yesterday, as the threat of a downgrade to Australia’s credit rating hit both the sharemarket and contributed
to the Aussie dollar’s fall.
NAVIGATOR PAYOUT FOR NAB CLIENTS
Banking: National Australia Bank will pay $25 million to about 62,000 customers affected by problems with its Navigator Wrap wealth management platform.
The bank said an independent review had identified errors in the way income and tax was allocated on the platform, which led to customers receiving less than they should have.
NAB Wealth group executive Andrew Haddar said the problems dated back to 2001, predating the bank’s ownership of Navigator, which it acquired as part of its 2009 takeover of Aviva and integrated the business into its operations in 2011.
“While this is a legacy issue, we took deliberate steps to make absolutely sure we could get the fairest outcome for our customers,” he said.
“These errors are in no way related to the quality of NAB Wealth’s advice to its customers.”
The bank says the average payout will be $400 per customer, although half of them will receive less than $100.
NAB launched a review of Navigator with accounting giant PwC in 2014 after reporting issues with the platform to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
“ASIC expects banks to vigilantly monitor their platforms for issues such as this,” ASIC commissioner Greg Tanzer said in a statement. “Any issues identified should be swiftly and proactively reported to ASIC, with a view to promptly compensating customers.”
The payments are not expected to have any impact on NAB’s full-year results.
GOOD TIME TO BUY PROPERTY
Housing: Most Aussies still think it’s a good time to get into the property market, despite house prices surging in Sydney and Melbourne, a survey has found.
Sixty per cent of the 1010 respondents polled in CoreLogic RP Data-Nine Reward’s housing market sentiment survey, released yesterday, considered the June quarter to be a good time to buy property.
While still a majority, the figure was down from 71 per cent of respondents over the same period last year, and
80 per cent in the second quarter of 2013.