'Financial Times' to Launch Free Afternoon Edition in U.K.

By: (AP) The Financial Times will launch a slimmed-down, free afternoon paper in Great Britain in an attempt to attract more readers to its online and main editions, the newspaper said Wednesday.

The paper, which will be launched by the end of April, will be "made available to corporate clients, including City office developments and leading [companies], airlines and leading business hotels" each working day, the newspaper said in a statement. It will have some space for advertising. A version of the paper will also be available online at FT.com.

The FT said the paper will be used to attract readers to the next day's main morning edition and the Web site FT.com, which requires subscription for more detailed parts of the site. The giveaway newspaper will use content from FT.com.

"Our readers need to stay up to date with breaking business news throughout the working day, and rely on the FT not just for the news, but for the most incisive comment and analysis too. ... That's what we'll give them during their working day with FTpm," said FT Editor Andrew Gowers.

The FT, which is owned by British publisher Pearson PLC, said investment bank Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. has already signed up for the new afternoon edition to be distributed in its offices.

The FT has been unprofitable for the past two years due to weak advertising, and Pearson has cut costs to the bone.

Press reports over the past few days suggest Pearson's shareholders are putting pressure on the company to either improve performance at the FT or sell the "trophy" asset. But Pearson Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino repeatedly has said the FT is not for sale.

Pearson's American shares rose 8 cents to $12.22 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.


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