Pearson set for acquisitions after selling IDC to private equity firms for $2bn

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The Independent Online

Pearson, the group that owns the Financial Times and Penguin Books, has sold its stake in Interactive Data Corporation (IDC) to two private equity companies in a deal worth $2bn (£1.3bn) to the publisher.

Silver Lake and Warburg Pincus have agreed to buy IDC, which provides financial market data and analysis, and will pay $3.4bn for the whole company. Pearson owns a 61 per cent stake in the group, which contributed £484m in sales and £148m in operating profit to the media group last year.

Dame Marjorie Scardino, Pearson's chief executive, said: "Pearson and IDC have extensive growth opportunities and ambitious expansion plans, and we believe this transaction will give both companies greater focus and opportunity to invest more in their strong market positions."

IDC's board unanimously backed the deal after a four-month strategic review of the company, which was widely expected to lead to a sale. The deal is expected to complete before September.

Paul Richards, an analyst at Numis Securities, said: "This is a very sensible disposal, although few will be surprised at the price or the timing, as it has been heavily flagged. IDC is a very good business but if you were building Pearson from a blank sheet of paper today, it would not be a good fit."

The blue-chip publisher and education group said it intends to use the proceeds of the sale to expand its businesses including through takeovers, "with a particular focus on adding complementary technology and services to its international, consumer and professional education businesses".

Mr Richards said: "The market will look with interest at what Pearson decides to do now. Its acquisition track record is good and this will give it a large cash pile."

A spokesman for Pearson again ruled out a sale of the Financial Times, which has been rumoured recently. Dame Marjorie said earlier this year that the FT "remains an integral part of the group and is a great brand for Pearson" and the spokesman added that the position had not changed.

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