With Pearson entering the final stages of merging its Penguin subsidiary with Random House, the multinational publishing behemoth has now agreed to sell its 50% stake in South Africa’s Business Day and Financial Mail (BDFM) to Times Media Group (TMG), which now takes its ownership to 100%.
BDFM is the publisher behind some of South Africa’s most well-known media outlets, including Business Day, Summit TV, BDLive and Financial Mail. Pearson’s subsidiary, The FT Group – which includes the Financial Times newspaper – is actually the shareholder, which also has a separate 50% stake in London-based The Economist Group.
“We have made this decision so we can continue to focus on the FT Group’s strategy of producing global business news and analysis,” says John Ridding, Chief Executive of the FT Group. “It will allow BDFM to accelerate its digital transformation under unified ownership and, most importantly, supports ongoing editorial independence of its titles in South Africa. We have had a long and fruitful partnership in South Africa and we wish BDFM and TMG every good fortune for the future.”
So by offloading BDFM, Pearson is looking to focus more on global media rather than local outlets, and is consistent with its other sales in recent times which include Recoletos in Spain back in 2004, Les Echos in France in 2007, and FT Deutschland in Germany a year later.
However, the FT Group will continue to work with BDFM through a content syndication, while BDFM journalists will also be eligible for training placements at the Financial Times.
The sale comes at a time when Pearson is looking to help create a major global publishing behemoth by bringing Penguin and Random House together, and the European Commission recently gave ts seal of approval to the merger.
The publishing giants first announced the plans back in October last year, but it could easily be October this year before the final rubber-stamp is given – the two companies have previously stated that they expect the transaction to be finalized some time in the second half of 2013.
Assuming the deal is seen through to completion, Bertelsmann – Random House’s parent company – will own a majority share in the newly formed ‘Penguin Random House’ with 53%, while Pearson will own the remaining 47%.