Pearson says in talks to sell its 50 percent stake in The Economist

Sat Jul 25, 2015 2:36pm EDT
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LONDON/MILAN (Reuters) - Britain's Pearson (PSON.L: Quote) is in talks to sell its 50 percent stake in The Economist to the other shareholders of the weekly newspaper, with one, Italy's Agnelli family, confirming it wants to increase its stake.

The move comes on the heels of Pearson's sale of the Financial Times newspaper to Japanese media group Nikkei, announced this week as its focuses on its education business.

"Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50 percent share in the group," the company said in a statement on Saturday.

"There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction."

Pearson did not name the potential buyers.

People familiar with the matter said, however, that the group of families and staff and former staff that own the remaining 50 percent are talking to Pearson but need to raise cash to fund the deal.

Italian holding company Exor (EXOR.MI: Quote), the investment company of the Agnelli family and a major shareholder in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI: Quote), said later on Saturday it was in talks about raising its stake, which stands at 4.72 percent, according to its website.

Any increased investment in The Economist Group would represent a minority shareholding and there was no certainty a deal would be concluded, it said in a statement.

Fiat is a shareholder in RCS Mediagroup (RCSM.MI: Quote), which publishes newspaper Corriere della Sera.   Continued...

A company logo hangs on the headquarters of the Financial Times newspaper in London, Britain July 23, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls