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Laurance Allen: The Financial Times’ Man in the U.S.

July 24, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Financial Times, London’s salmon-colored business newspaper, is now printed in the United States thanks largely to 40-year-old Laurance Allen, a native of Kenya who has beat the American bushes for the Financial Times since 1971.

″The rapidly-expanding internationalization of the financial markets is an important stimulus for printing in America,″ Allen said in a recent interview.

Beginning early this month, the newspaper has been beamed via satellite to a printing facility near Philadelphia - the Evergreen Printing and Publishing Co. in Bellmawr, N.J. - and then flown and hand-delivered to subscribers around the nation.

An international edition of the newspaper had been flown overnight by commercial jet - starting in 1979 - from Frankfurt to New York, with numerous delays.

Allen, a medium-sized, brown-haired British citizen, hopes that the Financial Times’ North American circulation, currently at 6,000, will double within a year and reach 25,000 within three years.

The newspaper, which has about 300 editorial staff members in 28 offices around the world, has a total circulation of about 230,000, of which 50,000 are sold outside Great Britain. The newspaper is distributed in 155 countries, he said.

The American edition, which differs only in that it doesn’t include U.S. stock-price tables, is edited in London and then assembled partly in London, partly in Frankfurt, he said.

The Financial Times’ big push into the United States follows a move by The Wall Street Journal to establish a presence in Europe with its ″Wall Street Journal-Europe″ edition.

″We’re not coming into the United States to challenge The Wall Street Journal,″ Allen said. ″We are marketing to a niche of business executives in need of international news. We realized we’d be a number three paper in the market.″

The Journal has a circulation of roughly 2 million.

″The first place people turn to is the local newspaper. The Journal is a second newspaper,″ Allen said.

The Financial Times is a second newspaper in Great Britain, he said. On the Continent, the Financial Times is No. 3, the Journal’s European edition, No. 4, Allen said.

A boon for the Financial Times has been U.S. advertisers seeking its space. U.S. advertising revenue jumped about 33 percent to $13 million in 1984, representing about 15 percent of the newspaper’s total advertising revenue.

What does Allen project for 1985?

He won’t get specific, but he said, ″We’re having the strongest year I’ve ever seen.

″The biggest part of it is the financial community which is increasingly international, so they need to reach Europe,″ Allen said.

Airlines, hotels and real estate agents are also big advertisers, he said.

As part of its thrust in North America, the Financial Times has cut its newsstand price to $1 from $1.50.

″It’s still an expensive buy, as a cover price,″ he said, but, ″We feel there is good value for a dollar.″

The newspaper’s annual subscription price is going to $365 from $420 for six days a week, and to $300 from $350 for five days, Allen said.

Just who reads the Financial Times in the United States?

Allen said the major groups of readers are involved in finance or the brokerage business, commercial banking, law, public relations and advertising.

The bulk of the Financial Times’ North American readers, 46 percent, are in New York, the newspaper said. Washington ranks second with 8 percent, followed by Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Financial Times was founded in 1888. In 1893, its publisher put pink die in the paper to make it stand out against a competitor.

In 1945, the Financial Times merged with that competitor, the Financial News, and the newspaper kept its unusual color.

The Financial Times was bought in 1957 by Pearson PLC, which remains its parent company today. Pearson, a diversified British concern, is listed on the Stock Exchange in London.

What’s ahead for the Financial Times?

″Where we’re going now is we’re really following our customers as we move to 24-hour trading,″ Allen said. ″The next step will be to print in the Far East.″

Allen joined the Financial Times in London in 1968 after a three-year stint at International Publishing Corp., which publishes the Daily Mirror and trade magazines, he said.

He was transferred to New York in the early 1970s, taking over advertising in 1974. Four years later, he was named director for North America.

Allen was born in Nairobi in 1944. His father was in charge of social services in the nearby British colony Tanganyika. Tanaganyika later joined with Zanzibar to form the republic Tanzania.

Allen said he was sent to boarding schools in England when he was nine years old and that he studied business at Regent Street Polytechnic in London.

An avid horseback rider, Allen lives in New York City. He is divorced and has no children.

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