Publisher Pearson agrees to £163m sale of Italian and German courseware firms to Finnish media giant
- Sanoma Corporation owns Scandinavia’s largest broadsheet newspaper
- Pearson began a review of its international courseware operations last year
- Under Andy Bird’s leadership, Pearson has increased its focus on digital learning
Education company Pearson has agreed to sell two European publishing companies for just over $200 million to Finland’s biggest media company.
Sanoma Corporation has agreed to buy Pearson’s K12 Italian and German courseware divisions for £163 million ($203 million) and distribute its English language teaching products in Italy.
The sale represents a new move by Pearson away from its traditional reliance on textbook sales and towards a greater focus on digital learning under chief executive Andy Bird.
Transition: Pearson launched a strategic review of its international courseware business in March 2021 amid declining sales resulting from the shift to e-learning
Sanoma is a media powerhouse in Finland, where it operates the country’s largest television channel and Scandinavia’s most popular broadsheet newspaper, as well as several radio stations and magazines.
Listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki stock exchange, it has expanded its educational operations in recent years through a series of acquisitions in countries including the Netherlands, Norway and Spain.
Pearson launched a strategic review of its international courseware operations in March 2021 after sales were hammered by the shift to online learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of the review, the FTSE 100 group sold its COC and Dom Bosco businesses in Brazil for £108m (Reais 789m) last October to Arco Platform.
Divesting these ‘strategic review businesses’ is expected to cost the company between £15m and £20m in adjusted operating profits this year, although this is highly dependent on when the deals take place.
Pearson said it “continues to make good progress on the remaining areas of the strategic review and will provide a further update on this in due course.”
Rejected: Pearson has rejected three takeover bids from private equity giant Apollo Global Management, including one valuing the group at £6.7bn
Following the announcement, Pearson shares fell 0.6% to 746.4p by late afternoon trading, despite having soared more than a quarter in the past six months.
Shares of the company have received a massive boost this year following a series of takeover bids by private equity giant Apollo Global Management.
All of Apollo’s offers were rejected by Pearson’s senior management, including the most recent offer, which valued the group at around £6.7bn, on the grounds that it significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects.
Following this latest offer, the London-based company announced that its underlying sales rose 7% in the first quarter thanks to expanding demand across most of its businesses, including its testing divisions in the States. States and learning English.
On the same day, he said he bought educational technology company Mondly, which provides one of the most downloaded language-learning apps in the world.
Andy Bird said: “Our acquisition of Mondly, one of the world’s leading online language learning platforms, is another exciting strategic development.
“This reinforces Pearson’s direct-to-consumer strategy and supports our ambition to become the world leader in English language learning for engaged learners.”