Abu Dhabi execs deny talks with Murdoch to buy Financial Times

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Senior UAE media executives have denied Abu Dhabi is in talks to buy the Financial Times Group, following reports that a $1.2 billion joint acquisition with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp could be announced as early as this week.

A digital magazine based in Malaysia last week reported that the ‘Abu Dhabi Media Group’ was in talks with Murdoch to buy the FT group, which is part of the London-listed publishing company Pearson and includes the Financial Times newspaper and a number of joint ventures including The Economist.

There is however no such entity as the ‘Abu Dhabi Media Group’ – and sources at other Abu Dhabi media entities emphatically denied that a bid for the FT is in the pipeline.

A source with intimate knowledge of the similarly named Abu Dhabi Media, which runs some of the emirate’s biggest newspapers and TV stations, insisted that no talks over the FT had taken place.

The source said that there was “no grounds whatsoever” to speculation that the state-owned ADM was bidding for the Financial Times Group. Another senior media executive based in Abu Dhabi confirmed that the recent press reports had “no basis”.

Pearson shares rose by about 1 percent on Friday morning, following the report that Murdoch and Abu Dhabi were exploring an acquisition of the Financial Times Group.

The so-called Abu Dhabi Media Group was said to be eying a 75 percent stake in the venture, with Murdoch set to acquire the remaining stake with the possibility of raising it further.

A News Corp spokeswoman told Fox Business that the report was “completely untrue”, while a representative of Pearson confirmed the company “is not in any talks” to sell the FT.

Pearson has however long been rumored to be looking to sell the Financial Times Group, with investors in Qatar at one point said to be interested.

Despite the denials that Abu Dhabi is interested in a purchase, the UAE-based Gulf News newspaper said the emirate is indeed preparing a bid for the UK media firm.

“The move is part of Abu Dhabi Media’s strategy to expand internationally and become a global media company,” an unnamed government source told Gulf News. “There are still some technicalities that need to be ironed out and the negotiations are going on.”

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