UPDATE 3-Pearson puts Mergermarket on the block

Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:22am EDT
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* Says M&A news service does not fit group's education focus

* Mergermarket could fetch 300 mln stg - sources

* Pearson CEO says FT not for sale

* Shares hit 12-year high

By Paul Sandle and Anjuli Davies

LONDON, July 26 (Reuters) - British publisher Pearson put its Mergermarket news service on the block on Friday while insisting that it intends to hang on to the Financial Times newspaper.

Pearson Chief Executive John Fallon said that Mergermarket, which reports M&A news and has annual sales of about 100 million pounds ($153 million), does not have a place in a group that is increasingly focused on education, digital services and emerging markets.

"While we are clear that the Financial Times itself is a strong business in its own right, and one that has a very important role to play in our emerging professional learning strategy, we can't see Mergermarket forging similar strategic or operational links with our educational company," he said.

Banking sources said that Mergermarket could fetch a price of 300 million pounds ($460 million), while analysts said that a sale would increase speculation that the Financial Times Group, which includes a stake in The Economist, could be broken up and sold off.   Continued...