LET’S MAKE A DEAL: The Economist may soon have a new ownership structure that will most likely look like the old one — with a few tweaks.
Over the weekend, Pearson, the education and publishing group that last week sold The Financial Times to Nikkei Inc., confirmed it is in talks to sell its 50 percent stake in The Economist Group, publisher of The Economist.
According to the Financial Times, the current clutch of minority shareholders in The Economist could all increase their stakes to buy Pearson’s share: They include Exor, the investment company controlled by Italy’s Agnelli family; Lynn Forester de Rothschild and Evelyn de Rothschild, and the Schroder and Cadbury families.
Exor, which holds a small minority stake in The Economist, confirmed it is in “discussion about the possibility of increasing its investment,” although it would retain a minority shareholding.
The Exor statement said that retaining a minority stake reflects “Exor’s strong commitment to the editorial independence that lies at the heart of The Economist’s ethos and success.”
The Rothschild family, which has about 21 percent of the group, had no comment on Monday, while the other two investors could not be reached for comment.
A report in The Financial Times estimated that Pearson’s 50 percent shareholding would be worth about 400 million pounds, or $620 million.
Pearson sold the FT for 844 million pounds, or $1.32 billion, with its chief executive officer John Fallon citing “an inflection point in media, driven by the explosive growth of mobile and social. In this new environment, the best way to ensure the FT’s journalistic and commercial success is for it to be part of a global, digital news company.”
Fallon added that Pearson would now be entirely focused on its global education strategy. Pearson produces and publishes educational resources, and also holds a stake in publishing group Penguin Random House.
“The world of education is changing profoundly, and we see huge opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality education globally,” he said.