Pearson sells Economist stake
Britain's Pearson brought an end to its near 60-year ownership of the 'Economist' yesterday, agreeing to sell its 50pc stake in a deal that makes Italy's Agnelli family the largest shareholder in the weekly title.
The £469m (€656m) deal had been expected after Pearson sold the 'Financial Times' newspaper last month to Japan's Nikkei to focus on its education business.
The Economist, a famously opinionated advocate of free markets, said the deal would be structured in such a way as to guarantee its editorial independence.
Pearson said it would sell its stake to Exor, a holding vehicle for the Agnelli family, and to The Economist Group. To finance the purchase The Economist, founded in 1843, said it would sell the Economist building in London's exclusive St James's district, its home since the 1960s.
"The board's priority was to secure the independence of the ownership of the Group and the continued editorial independence of The Economist," said Rupert Pennant-Rea, the chairman of The Economist Group. Under the terms of the deal, Exor will pay $287m to increase its stake to 43.4pc from 4.7pc and The Economist Group will pay £182m to repurchase Pearson's remaining ordinary shares.