Pearson, the media and information conglomerate

Pearson, the media and information conglomerate, has confirmed it will sell all or most of its 9.75 per cent holding in BSkyB, netting up to pounds 550m, writes Mathew Horsman. It has appointed BZW and Goldman Sachs as global co-ordinators and will seek shareholder approval for the disposal at an EGM on 5 September.

Pearson has carried the BSkyB stake at pounds 429m on its books. Assuming a pounds 550m sale price, the stake would generate pre-tax profits of pounds 110m in the current year. Capital gains of about pounds 180m would be triggered, but Pearson has made provisions for pounds 141.5m, leaving a net gain of pounds 70m. The sale would allow it to eliminate debt, leading to a savings of about pounds 6.5m in the last four months of the year, a spokesman said.