He has held the top newsroom position since 2005.
In an email to staff relaying his decision, Barber said: “After 14 years, I am stepping down as editor, effective January 2020. It’s been a rare privilege and pleasure to hold the best job in journalism.
“When I took over as editor, I pledged to restore the gold standard in the FT’s reporting and commentary, and to help the board to build a sustainably profitable business based on digital transformation.
“Since Nikkei purchased the FT in 2015, I have also worked hard to cement our global media alliance. Together we have achieved these goals, passing the milestone of one million paying FT readers this year.
“I thank Pearson, Nikkei and all my outstanding colleagues for their support in tumultuous times. I am particularly grateful to Kita-san for his confidence and trust. We have built a partnership for the future.
“I expect my successor to be announced shortly. Meanwhile, there’s a job to be done - and a general election to cover.”
Tsuneo Kita, chairman of the FT’s proprietor, Nikkei, commented: “It’s been our utmost privilege to have worked with Lionel. He has transformed the FT newsroom into a world class digital-first operation, producing a unique combination of deep, original reporting and powerful commentary. FT journalism has never been stronger.
“We also thank him for his commitment to the successful partnership between the FT and Nikkei, navigating an unprecedented collaboration between the two newsrooms. He is a strategic thinker, true internationalist and great friend of Nikkei.
“Lionel and I have built personal trust over the last several years; it’s very sad to see him leave the FT. However, both of us agree it is time to open a new chapter.”
Lionel Barber began his career in journalism in 1978 as a reporter for the Scotsman, before moving to the Sunday Times three years later. He joined the FT in 1985 as a business reporter. In 1986, he became Washington correspondent before being appointed Brussels bureau chief in 1992. He served as the news editor from 1998 before leading the continental European edition between 2000 and 2002. He was then appointed US managing editor, before moving back to London as editor.
Barber has co-written several books and lectured widely on foreign policy, transatlantic relations and Europe. As FT editor, he has interviewed many world leaders including President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Hassan Rouhani, President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin, Premier Li Keqiang and President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as the most influential people in world business. He has won multiple awards and honours, including the St. George's Society Medal of Honor in recognition of services to the transatlantic journalism community and the Légion d'Honneur in light of the FT's positive contribution to debate about Europe.
During Barber’s tenure, the FT has won numerous prizes for its journalism, in Britain and around the world, including from the British Journalism Awards, Gerald Loeb, Overseas Press Club, Society of American Business Editors and Writers and Society of Publishers in Asia. In 2019, the FT won four awards at the British Press Awards, having taken the prestigious Newspaper of the Year Award twice in recent years, and the publication has been lauded for its digital transformation, creative storytelling and investigative reporting, say the publishers.
In 2019, the FT surpassed the milestone of one million paying readers, a landmark in its 131-year history. The publication, whose digital subscribers account for more than 75% of total circulation, also returned to its historic headquarters at Bracken House in the City of London in summer.