In a matter of weeks, the Financial Times will launch a dedicated Asian edition in print and online to boost its ever-expanding presence in Asia. In addition to printing and distributing the US edition of the pink paper throughout the region, the FT also launched an online Chinese language business service in July. This attracted more than 30,000 registered users in two months, as well as advertisers such as Toyota and Morgan Stanley.
The reinforced editorial team, based in Hong Kong, serves twin aims: to generate editorial for the Asia edition and to provide high-quality news and judgment on Asian events to the FT's other newsrooms in the US and Europe. "We're a single beating heart," John Ridding, the editor and publisher of FT Asia, says. "The FT is a single organism, so it looks and feels similar wherever you read it."
Certainly, the Asian edition will mirror the more familiar elements of other editions of the FT, including Weekend FT and How To Spend It. As Ridding puts it: "Business people need a bit of fun too."
The long-term plan for the new Asian edition is to bolster significantly the paper's 27,000-strong circulation among its audience, mainly in the business community. According to the latest Asian Business Readership Survey, the FT boasted the third-highest average issue readership among the dailies after the Wall Street Journal Asia and the International Herald Tribune. The launch will no doubt be looking to encroach on the circulations of both titles.
Ridding, the former deputy editor of the UK FT, comments: "For us, it's the final piece of our global strategy. There is fundamental dynamism in this region: China sucks in more foreign investment than any other economy in the world, and Japan is beginning to buzz again. It became apparent, talking to business leaders, that there was a demand: the appetite among the Chinese business community for quality international business news is awesome and they haven't got that many channels for it."
He is sanguine about the competition: "Other international newspapers set up separate newspapers and don't bring the strength of other editions to bear in other markets. It's useful for us that we sell most of our newspapers outside the UK and we're objective and international as a result of that."
In terms of advertising, the sectors traditionally synonymous with the FT are all on board: luxury goods and car brands, along with fresh budgets from airlines and travel operators - evidence that these brands are bouncing back from the recent Sars epidemic.
The FT Asia's commercial director, Su-Mei Thompson, also believes that the new Asian edition will benefit from corporate branding campaigns: "We're considered to be an objective and impartial voice, so we are a good environment for those wanting to inspire public confidence in them."
She is buoyant about the launch: "We've always done well in certain sectors given our particular heartland audience of affluent consumers and senior decision-makers."
Cover price: Differs from market to market. Sample prices are:
Australia: A$8.50; China: Rmb 31; Hong Kong: $20; Japan:
Y600; Korea: W2000; Malaysia: Rm 7.00; Singapore: S$3.50; Taiwan:
NT$95; Thailand: Bht 95
Advertisers: Cathay Pacific, Samsung, Patek Philippe, Fujitsu, Louis
Vuitton, Dior, Malaysian Airlines
Full-page colour ad rate: $25,000
Direct rivals: Wall Street Journal Asia, International Herald Tribune