Roula Khalaf

LONDON — The Financial Times has a new editor, Roula Khalaf, who will succeed veteran newsman Lionel Barber. Khalaf is the first female editor in the paper’s 103-year-history.

Khalaf has been the FT’s deputy editor since 2016, and since joining the financial newspaper in 1995, she has held a number of roles including foreign editor, where she oversaw operations in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and Middle East editor, where she led coverage of the Arab Spring. 

She has received numerous accolades during her career, including foreign commentator of the year at the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards in 2016. During her tenure as deputy editor she has overseen a network of 100 foreign correspondents and spearheaded initiatives such as a new vertical on global trade.

Kalaf is also known for her efforts to increase the FT’s female readership and talent pool. Following news of her appointment, the British press highlighted the fact that she’s a female and a women’s advocate.

“I have full confidence that she will continue the FT’s mission to deliver quality journalism without fear and without favor, inspire and lead a team of the most talented journalists and pursue the FT’s new agenda covering business, finance, economics and world affairs,” said Tsuneo Kita, chairman of Nikkei, which owns the FT.

Barber, who has served as editor since 2005, will step down early next year. He is also the chairman of the Tate museums in London. His appointment to that role last year stirred some controversy over potential conflicts of interest arising from the two jobs.

As with so many other British titles, the old guard is stepping down at the FT. Earlier this year, Gillian de Bono left her post as editor of How to Spend It, the Financial Times’ luxury magazine supplement, to pursue new projects in journalism and beyond. She was succeeded by Jo Ellison.

De Bono joined the FT in 1994 to set up a magazine department, following the launch of a trial issue of How to Spend It for FT Weekend. The magazine grew out of the paper’s Saturday section of the same name, which had been launched by Lucia van der Post. Previously, de Bono spent 13 years editing women’s glossy magazines and before that worked at Consumers Association, publishers of Which? magazine.

On de Bono’s watch, How to Spend It rapidly become a template for the myriad glossy fashion and lifestyle supplements that come with the weekend newspapers, as well as a lucrative revenue stream for the paper.