FT-BS to have joint ad schemes as tie-up formalised

MUMBAI: It's official and formal now. Business Standard will not only get to access Financial Times' content, but can also rely on its marketing muscle to give its bottomlines a boost.

The Financial Times of London today announced that it has picked up 13.85 per cent of equity stake in Business Standard, a premier Indian business newspaper, for Rs. 140.1 million and did not rule out the possibility of increasing its shareholding in the future as business expanded.

In September last, FT had announced its intention to acquire a stake in BS consequent to the government relaxing foreign investment norms in the print medium.

Addressing a press conference here today, FT Group chairman Sir David Bell said, "Like us Business Standard is aiming at the top section of business readership. That audience is growing and it needs to understand global matters better. We will bring a unique global perspective to the table. One of the things that we would be initially be looking at working together is coming out with surveys for instance on the pharmaceutical industry."

The press conference also indicates that formalities have been completed and the equity transfer has taken place along with the money transfer.

Bell went on to state that joint advertising packages would be developed for The Financial Times and Business Standard. "Some of our global clients are keen on reaching Indian readers," he explained.

Elaborating on the delay in FT's entry into India, Bell noted that rules took a long time to develop. "At the moment FT does not see the need to take more stake. As and when Business Standard's profits start increasing, FT would look at either taking some profit in the form of dividend or investing further in our print industry. Our aim is to see the Business Standard be the top financial newspaper in the country," he added.

With the Indian government allowing foreign media companies to invest in domestic media companies in 2002, announcement of the BS-FT tie-up was the first in this sector. Subsequently, Times of India group has announced a tie-up with the Asian Wall Street Journal and MJ Akbar-Venkat Ram Reddy combine have already started printing International Herald Tribune from here after registering the brand in India, which has resulted in a controversy.

From today, all editions of the Business Standard will carry one page of Financial Times content from Monday to Saturday. FT's content will also appear on Business Standard's website.

According to Financial Times In Asia editor and publisher John Ridding, "India is a very important market for FT. Growing our brand and business in India is the next step in the evolution of our Asia edition. What makes us unique is our global stance. We do not have a US agenda or a UK agenda. Reliability and objectivity are two key strengths that we offer vis-a-vis the stiff competition."

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