LONDON — Tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch and Warren Buffett may soon have the opportunity to acquire the Financial Times, if recent reports about the newspaper’s current owner prove to be accurate.
According to Bloomberg, FTSE 100 (UKX) member Pearson (ISE: PSON.L) (NYS: PSO) may sell the Financial Times division as the group focuses more attention on its larger education businesses.
Bloomberg cited unidentified sources close to Pearson as saying the company has “decided to consider offers for the newspaper this year.”
The rumors follow the impending departure of Marjorie Scardino, who has served as Pearson’s chief executive for almost 16 years, and the recent decision to merge the group’s Penguin paperback subsidiary with the publishing operations of Bertelsmann.
During 2011, the Financial Times and various sister publications produced sales of 427 million pounds and adjusted operating profits of 76 million pounds. One of Bloomberg’s mystery sources touted a potential 1 billion pound price tag for the subsidiary.
Potential purchasers for the Financial Times may include Murdoch, a former school newspaper editor and now chairman of News Corp. (NAS: NWS) , which bought The Wall Street Journal for $5 billion during 2007.
However, U.K. regulatory hurdles — News Corp. already publishes the Times and Sun newspapers — may prevent Murdoch from completing any deal.
Warren Buffett, a former paperboy and currently boss of Berkshire Hathaway (NYS: BRK.A) (NYS: BRK.B) , may be another interested bidder.
Buffett’s conglomerate has owned a large stake in Washington Post since 1973 and has bought more than 60 newspapers, including his local Omaha World-Herald, for $342 million during the past year or so.
Whether Pearson actually sells — and whether Murdoch or Buffett actually buys — the Financial Times remains purely speculation at present.
However, both tycoons may take a look if invited to make a bid, given the Financial Times is one of the few large newspapers to have survived the Internet and recession relatively intact.
In the meantime, it could pay to investigate a share one of the tycoons has bought this year.