FT.com to merge with FTMarketwatch.com

Pearson hopes to beef up FT.com's coverage of the world's stock markets, as it warns investors of an advertising slump
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Media group Pearson announced on Wednesday that it is planning to integrate financial news site FTMarketwatch.com into FT.com, the Web site of the Financial Times.

The company also warned that its Internet operations are likely to make a loss of £60m in the second half of 2002. Pearson insisted, however, that the FT's Web business is still on track to reach break-even point by the end of 2002.

Pearson, which already owned half of FTMarketwatch.com, is buying the 50 percent stake held by Marketwatch.com. Senior executives claimed that the merger would improve FT.com's reporting on the world's stock markets. FTMarketwatch.com's strength is its coverage of breaking news in the financial markets, with details of the latest facts and announcements updated every minute.

The FT.com site includes more coverage of current affairs and politics, and analysis of issues such as the European single currency -- reflecting its status as a daily newspaper. FT Group chief executive Stephen Hill said that "FTMarketWatch.com will become an integral part of FT.com, enhancing the markets coverage we can offer." Hill added that the move would result in lower operating costs, and allow the two sites to share their editorial resources.

Pearson is also planning to cut around 150 jobs at the Financial Times group, which currently employs 1,500 people. This is expected to be achieved through a combination of early retirement and voluntary redundancy. According to a Pearson spokesman, journalists, marketing staff and management could all be affected.

FTMarketWatch.com, which was launched in June 2000, has a user base of at least 500,000 unique monthly users and generates nine million monthly page views. FT.com has with 1.8 million unique monthly users and 40 million monthly page views.

Investors were also warned that last month's terrorist attacks have had a negative impact on Pearson's business, with advertising revenue dropping sharply at the Financial Times, The Economist, and other Pearson titles such as French newspaper Les Echos. "In the last month, we have seen a large number of advertising cancellations and very little new advertising activity," said Pearson.

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