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Company ends news publishing tie

Pearson sells The Economist to Fiat owner

The EconomistPearson has ended its half-century involvement in news publishing by agreeing to sell its 50% stake in The Economist Group to Exor for £469 million, payable in cash.

The Economist Group includes The Economist, the 172-year-old weekly business and current affairs publication with a circulation of around 1.6 million. The group includes Economist.com; the Economist Intelligence Unit; CQ Roll Call and TVC.

It contributed £21 million to Pearson’s operating income but the company said its stake in the business was valued at nil in its books.

Exor is the Agnelli family’s investment company that controls carmaker Fiat Chrysler. It also owns Italian newspaper La Stampa.

Fiat is also the biggest investor in RCS Media Group, which publishes Italy’s biggest newspaper Corriere della Sera. John Elkann, chief executive of Exor, is a board member of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Pearson said the proceeds of selling The Economist will be used for general corporate purposes and investment in its global education strategy. The company last month sold the Financial Times group to Japan’s Nikkei.

Pearson’s 47% stake in book-publishing venture Penguin Random House may also be up for sale.

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.” 

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