JOURNALIST Q&A: James Politi

It's not uncommon to hear business described as a kind of warfare. Few are better positioned to judge this comparison than James Politi, who, fresh from covering the US invasion of Iraq, is handling FT's coverage of M&As, bankruptcies, and private equity. He talks to PRWeek about his latest assignment.

It's not uncommon to hear business described as a kind of warfare. Few are better positioned to judge this comparison than James Politi, who, fresh from covering the US invasion of Iraq, is handling FT's coverage of M&As, bankruptcies, and private equity. He talks to PRWeek about his latest assignment.

PRWeek: You've gone from covering the war in Iraq from FT's Washington bureau to your new beat covering deals from New York. What kind of adjustments do you have to make as a reporter? James Politi: The veil of secrecy surrounding the negotiation of a multibillion-dollar merger is probably not dissimilar to that which envelops the Pentagon, White House, and State Department while the US is at war: Trying to crack that is a fantastic challenge for any reporter. Needless to say, however, the personalities you contend with on a daily basis are very different: politicians, diplomats, and military officials on one side, corporate bankers and lawyers on the other. PRWeek: Does your new assignment reflect an acknowledgment that deals will become a more prominent part of business news as the economy recovers? Politi: Judging by the news this week, deal flow is picking up. More than $70 billion worth of mergers were announced on Monday [October 27], making October the first $100 billion-plus month for US M&A since July 2001. So in that sense, my arrival has been timely. But my job isn't to cheerlead a recovery in M&A activity. Deals can be smart or dumb, they can work or not work, and our readers want intelligent coverage so they can judge the merits of a transaction based on the best possible reporting. PRWeek: Although FT is making strong gains in the US, it's still often thought of as a British newspaper. Is it difficult getting the scoop on deals involving American companies? Politi: The last time I lived for an extended period of time in New York, it was 1995 - I was graduating from high school and FT had a very small presence in the US market. All that has changed now - circulation has grown and the paper can be found at most Manhattan newsagents. We are read by some of America's most influential players in business and politics. This growth has translated into much better access to inside information, not just in terms of large cross-border deals, which are our bread and butter, but also when it comes to pure American deals. I hope to make the most of that access and get as many important stories as I can. PRWeek: There's no shortage of coverage of important mergers and acquisitions. How do you expect your coverage to stand out from the rest? Politi: Going back to the point I made above, FT's coverage of M&A should be smart, accurate, and internationally minded, like the paper itself. If those three adjectives end up being applied to my work as an M&A reporter, I've been successful. ----- Name: James Politi Publication: Financial Times Title: Deals correspondent Preferred contact method: James.Politi@ft.com Website: www.ft.com

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