Business journos cash in on Financial News sale

A group of senior business journalists have landed a significant return on investment from the sale of weekly financial newspaper Financial News to Dow Jones for £27 million.

Financial News was founded in March 1996 as the weekly newspaper about the European securities and investment banking industry.

The title was headed by Clive Wolman, who at the time was business editor of The Mail on Sunday and previously a Financial Times journalist, and Peter Wilson-Smith, a former BBC and Independent business journalist.

Other shareholders include Mike Foster, ex-Evening Standard; Maggie Pagano, who writes for The Sunday Times; and current Financial News editor William Wright, whose first journalism job was on the title. They are all understood to have made varying returns from this sale, with Wolman and Wilson-Smith both owning shareholdings in the region of 10 per cent.

Shareholders will receive around £30m from the sale, including £3m in respect of estimated working capital.

Other shareholders include two nonexecutive board members: Financial News chair Rupert Pennant-Rae (a former editor of The Economist) and former chair David Gordon (a former chief executive of The Economist and ITN).

Editor Wright said: "The people who founded and invested in the newspaper back at the beginning in 1995 and the launch in 1996 have made significant return on their investment. They havein many cases worked very hard and for many years in order to make that return and it has never been a certainty that they would do so.

"This company lost money for many years. The company, and Angus [MacDonald, pictured] as its chief executive, took a very big risk. They are now being rewarded for having taken that risk but it was never guaranteed that reward would come."

The Financial Times funded the original business plan for Financial News, but decided against backing its launch. Ex-stockbroker MacDonald refinanced the company in December 1996 before selling his company, Edinburgh Financial Publishing, in 1997 for £12m.

Financial News launched its online offering from cash invested by Sir Richard Storey in 2000. Storey, previously publisher of Portsmouth & Sunderland Newspapers, bought approximately 10 per cent of the publication.

MacDonald, who owned 25 per cent of the company, will assist the transition on a part-time basis. He told Press Gazette that when the company sold eFinancialCareers last autumn, the sale generated interest in the publishing company.

"A number of our shareholders had been investing in it for over 11 years but had never received dividends or anything, so they were quite keen to realise their investment."

The Financial News brands and businesses, which employ 120 staff, will operate as part of Dow Jones. No job cuts are expected as part of the changes.

Tony Gibson will remain chief executive and publisher, with Wright as editor- in-chief. MacDonald said he had "no idea" as to his future plans but he was "in no hurry".

Financial News Online has more than 35,000 paying subscribers. The stable of Financial News' titles includes Private Equity News, the leading weekly title in its field; FNO US, a US version of its daily website; and Brummell, a luxury consumer title distributed with Financial News. The company also runs an events and training business.

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