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The Financial Times Sale to Nikkei Means Bloomberg Can Finally Focus on Buying the New York Times

Now there's only one major media trophy left: The New York Times.

Stuart Monk /

The Financial Times, the must-read business broadsheet for the 1 percent for over a century, is being sold to Japanese financial news publisher Nikkei for about $1.3 billion. That’s after earlier reports (including in the FT itself), that the newspaper could be sold to German publisher Axel Springer.

The FT’s stellar reputation has long made it a potential trophy asset among billionaires and has been eyed by powerful people for awhile, most notably by Mike Bloomberg, who has a hefty news operation of his own. Still, he wanted the FT, and I’d heard that he was mulling it very recently when it came up for sale (again).

Now, the list of potential acquisitions that could help Bloomberg wield wider influence has narrowed considerably to just one: The New York Times.

Previous editors of the Times, particularly Jill Abramson, had made it clear they didn’t think Bloomberg would be a good owner. More importantly, it’s less clear what members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family, who control the paper, think about the former New York City mayor. Bloomberg has attended a number of family events in the past, typically closed to outsiders, if that tells you anything.

Bloomberg has told confidants he’d still like to make a run for the Times, but despite Bloomberg’s billions, it won’t be easy. If the family were to sell it wouldn’t only be about money (though that’s still very important.) They see it as a matter of stewardship — in other words, someone who won’t think of themselves as bigger than the institution itself.

But if anyone can, Bloomberg would be a pretty good bet. And given some of the Times’ struggles of late, the family may have to decide sooner rather than later.

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