Britain’s Pearson Plc announced Wednesday that it has agreed to sell its 50 percent stake in the Economist Group for 469 million pounds ($731 million) to existing investors. The move marks Pearson’s complete exit from business news publishing after it sold the Financial Times newspaper to Japan's Nikkei last month.
Pearson said in a statement that Exor SpA, the Agnelli family’s investment company that also controls car-manufacturer Fiat Chrysler, agreed to pay 227.5 million pounds for 27.8 percent of the Economist Group’s ordinary shares and all of the B special shares for 59.5 million pounds. The remaining ordinary shares will be repurchased by the Economist Group for 182 million pounds.
“Pearson is now 100% focused on our global education strategy,” John Fallon, CEO of Pearson, said in a statement. “The world of education is changing rapidly and we see great opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality learning globally.”
In July, the company responded to speculation about the sale of the Economist Group, saying it was in discussions with the board and trustees regarding a potential sale of its 50 percent stake in the Economist.
The latest deal puts an end to Pearson’s role in the news publishing business. The company announced last month that Nikkei, Japan’s largest media company, would buy the FT Group for $1.3 billion.
“The transaction is subject to a number of regulatory approvals and to approval by both a 75% majority of The Economist Group shareholders and the group’s independent trustees,” Pearson said, in the statement.
In 2014, the Economist Group contributed 21 million pounds to Pearson’s operating income, the company said.