Pearson in talks on German link

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PEARSON, the newspapers and television group, is in talks with the German media giant Bertelsmann about setting up a new German-language financial newspaper.

Gruner + Jahr, Bertelsmann's newspaper and magazine division, yesterday confirmed that it is discussing the project with executives from Pearson's Financial Times.

Talks are still at an early stage, and the two companies are considering a range of different options. However, a spokesman for Gruner said the project would cost up to 92m Euros (pounds 64m) and lead to the recruitment of between 80 and 100 journalists.

Last weekend Pearson confirmed that it had asked Andrew Gowers, deputy editor of the Financial Times, to look at a number of options for expansion.

The initiative demonstrates Pearson's determination to build on the reputation of the FT outside the UK. The paper is currently in the middle of a pounds 50m investment designed to boost sales. Circulation in the US recently hit 70,000 and the paper now sells more copies outside the UK than inside. Gruner + Jahr publishes newspapers including the Berliner Zeitung and magazines such as the German version of Marie Claire.

The news emerged as Pearson announced it had taken a 10.9 per cent stake in E-Pub, a US-based online entertainment group, and signed an agreement allowing E-Pub to develop online versions of its game shows.