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Pearson holds talks on sale of Economist magazine stake

Published 25/07/2015

The Financial Times newspaper is being bought by a Japanese firm
The Financial Times newspaper is being bought by a Japanese firm

Publisher Pearson has confirmed it is involved in talks to sell its 50% stake in the Economist Group, publisher of the Economist magazine.

The news came two days after the company agreed to sell the Financial Times (FT) to Japan's Nikkei for £844 million.

It said in a statement: "Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50% share in the Group. There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction."

The FT reported that Pearson was in negotiations to sell its stake in the Economist Group to other shareholders in it.

The talks could in effect complete the company's change from a diversified family conglomerate to a business focused solely on education, it added.

Pearson's stake would be worth about £400m, it said, while potential buyers include families such as the Schroders, the Cadburys, the Rothschilds and the Agnellis.

Pearson's sale of the FT, which it has owned since 1957, is subject to regulatory approval and expected to complete in the fourth quarter of this year.

Pearson chief executive John Fallon said when the sale was announced that the group is to focus entirely on education publishing.

Nikkei, Asia's largest independent business media group, owns flagship newspaper Nikkei and other operations ranging from books and magazines to digital media, database services and broadcasting.

The deal sees the respected pink pages of the FT fall into foreign hands after more than a century at the heart of London's financial community. Founded in 1888, it began being printed on pink paper five years later.

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