British multinational publishing and education company Pearson has confirmed that it plans to sell its 50 per cent stake in the Economist Group, which includes the Economist magazine, research company the Economist Intelligence Unit and CQ Roll Call, a US legislative information provider.
Experts have valued of the stake at an estimated £400 million.
Last week, it was announced that Pearson had also sold the Financial Times to Japanese firm Nikkei for £844 million. Pearson said that its decision for selling the financial newspaper was part of its strategy to focus on the educational sector.
A sale is not certain
While Pearson is currently carrying out discussions regarding the sale of the Economist, the company has also noted that there is no certainty that the process will lead to a sale.
A spokesman for the company said: “Pearson confirms it is in discussions with the Economist Group board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50 per cent share in the group. There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction.”
No potential buyers were named, but according to the BBC, Italy's Agnelli family has said it is in talks to increase its holding. Currently, Exor, the Agnelli family's investment arm holds a 4.72 per cent stake in the Economist Group.
On its website, the firm said that it would continue to hold a minority share in the business - this would reflect "Exor's strong commitment to the editorial independence that lies at the heart of the Economist's ethos and success". The company also noted that a deal was not certain.
Pearson acquired its 50 per cent stake in the Economist in 1957 as part of its purchase of the Financial Times. A sale would have to be approved by trustees at the Economist Group, including former minister Virginia Bottomley and Gus O’Donnell the former cabinet secretary.
Other shareholders include Cadbury, Rothschild and Schroder – these firms could also be potential buyers for the Pearson stake.
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