Focus turns to The Economist after FT sale

Fri Jul 24, 2015 4:43pm EDT
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By Pamela Barbaglia

LONDON (Reuters) - The Economist Group could become the latest British media business to undergo a change of ownership this year as its co-owner Pearson focuses on education, bankers and industry sources said.

The company, whose weekly magazine was first published in 1843, is partly held by Pearson via the Financial Times, which is now in the process of being sold to Japan's Nikkei.

But Pearson has retained control of its 50 percent stake in The Economist Group despite pledges to exit the news industry and fully focus on education.

The remaining 50 percent of the Economist Group is controlled by a series of wealthy families and The Economist's staff and former staff.

The Cadbury family in Britain is among the individual owners of the media group and controls A shares, which have greater voting rights than Pearson, which holds B shares.    

Other individual owners include the Rothschild, Schroder and Agnelli families, who also own A shares.

Any change of control would require an overall consensus among the A shareholders, Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi told Reuters on Friday.

The families are unlikely to back any plans by Pearson to sell its 50 percent stake to third parties as they see The Economist as a core asset, several industry bankers said.   Continued...

Copies of the Financial Times newspaper sit in a rack at a newsstand in London, Britain July 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Peter Nicholls