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Pearson sells its stake in Economist; to focus on education

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Publishing company Pearson is selling its 50% stake in the Economist Group for £469 million (~$730 million), reports the BBC. Exor, the holding group of the Agnelli family, will buy 27.8% of the ordinary shares for £227.5 million and all of the B special shares for £59.5 million. The rest of Pearson’s remaining ordinary shares will be repurchased by the Economist Group for a total of £182 million.

Note that the transaction is still subject to regulatory approval and an approval of 75% majority by both, the Economist Group shareholders and the group’s independent trustees. The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015. Pearson mentions that it will use the money gained for general corporate purposes and to invest in its education division.

Interestingly, just last month, Pearson sold the Financial Times Group to the Japanese media firm Nikkei for £844 million in cash. The company, which owned FT and Economist for over 50 years, had said that it remained committed to the newspapers because of its strong brand, although it looks like it now wants to focus only on its offerings in the education sector.

Bangalore Court case: The Bangalore City Court recently restrained Pearson’s Indian arm from using or referring to any outputs from Kaleido, a patent pending student assessment and analytics platform by Bangalore based education startup. New Rubric had approached the court in June alleging that Pearson had plagiarised the analysis generated by Kaleido, with evidence from a YouTube video, where a Pearson director was presenting content copied verbatim from Kaleido last October.

Pearson’s Zaya funding: In India, Pearson funded school educational services start-up Zaya Learning Labs in May last year. Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) was set up by Pearson in 2012 to make minority equity investments in for-profit companies operating in affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Zaya was PALF’s fifth investment globally, and first in India.

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IBM-Pearson tie up: In March last year, IBM entered into a 5 year agreement with Pearson India for its program to offer e-learning solutions to more than 22,000 classrooms across India. As part of the agreement, Pearson India would create digital classrooms for K2 students, while IBM would supply, install and maintain of the IT infrastructure in these classrooms. Most recently, the Pearson acquired Tutorvista received FIPB approval to merge several direct and indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of Pearson (Singapore) PTE Limited.

Image source: Flickr user keso s

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