New business daily aims to challenge the FT

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PLANS ARE BEING drawn up for a new business daily newspaper which would rival the Financial Times and specialist trade publications such as Lloyd's List.

Clive Wolman, 38, city editor of the Mail on Sunday, is behind the venture, which promises to cause the biggest shake-up in business publishing in years. It will be the first new national paper since the Sunday Correspondent was launched in November 1989, only to close a year later.

Among the publishing groups to have been approached for backing are EMAP, the Peterborough-based newspaper and magazine group, Mirror Group and the Telegraph.

The Economist, 50 per cent owned by Pearson, owner of the FT, has also been courted by Mr Wolman.

His own employers, Associated Newspapers, are understood to have examined the idea and decided not to participate. He is believed to be seeking pounds 10m for the paper, which could be based at Canary Wharf in the London Docklands.

Mr Wolman's project is thought to be a product that can be tailored to

individual sectoral and regional audiences. All editions will carry the day's main business stories but after that they will be slanted towards specialist markets: the Scottish paper will focus on local companies; the insurance and shipping edition will concentrate on news from that sector, and so on.

It is understood that cover prices of 70p and up to pounds 1 are being considered. The paper would be hand delivered in the City and will be printed at 6am to provide the most up-to-date information on international stock markets.

Sports coverage - something not traditionally offered by the FT during the week - has also been discussed. Whether the new paper is broadsheet or tabloid has not been settled, while its news reports and feature articles may also be available on-screen to subscribers.

'Somebody has leaked something,' said Mr Wolman when the Independent called yesterday. He refused to discuss the paper in detail but claimed: 'It will strongly differentiate from the incumbent (the FT).'

Nevertheless, the new paper will face a fierce rival in the FT, which prides itself on the breadth of its business coverage, both domestic and international, and is determined to retain its dominant position.

The 'pink 'un', more than a century old, reported a 34 per cent rise in profits last year to pounds 24.8m. Average circulation figures for October to March show a healthy rise to 294,053, from a figure of 291,585 over the same period 12 months before.

David Bell, FT chief executive, said: 'We've heard a number of rumours about a new financial paper and we're watching them extremely closely. So far, though, they have come to nothing.'