Pearson has confirmed the sale of its 50% stake in The Economist Group for a £469m ($731m) price tag, following last month’s £844m ($1.3bn) sale of its interest in the Financial Times to Japanese media group Nikkei.
The publishing company said that investment company Exor, controlled by the Italian Agnelli family, has agreed to buy 27.8% of The Economist Group’s ordinary shares for £227.5m and all its B special shared for £59.5m.
The remaining shares are being repurchased by The Economist Group for £182m, which will own the controlling stake in the business as a result of the deal.
Pearson confirmed at the end of last month that it was in talks to sell its 50% stake. Today’s news marks the publisher’s completion of its divestment programme, as it seeks to strip back its business to its educational publishing core.
Pearson said the proceeds from its Financial Times and Economist Group sales would be used for “general corporate purposes and investment in its global education strategy”. The deal is subject to regulatory and shareholder approval.
John Fallon, Pearson’s chief executive, said: “Pearson is proud to have been a part of the Economist’s success over the past 58 years, and our shareholders have benefited greatly from its growth.
“We have enjoyed supporting the company as it has built a global business, sustaining the excellence of its journalism and ensuring it is read more widely. We wish all our colleagues at The Economist every future success.
“Pearson is now 100% focused on our global education strategy. The world of education is changing rapidly and we see great opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality learning globally.”
The Economist Group’s flagship eponymous publication, The Economist, has circulation of around 1.6 million. The group also owns the Economist Intelligence Unit, among other services and publications.