Education group Pearson has agreed to sell its remaining 25% stake in book publisher Penguin Random House for £530 million.
Bertelsmann will buy the stake, with the acquisition valuing Penguin at around $3.67 billion US (£2.8 billion). It ends Pearson’s near 50-year involvement with Penguin and makes it the latest business to become a pure digital learning company.
Pearson – which has also offloaded its media interests including the Financial Times Group and the Economist Group in recent years – said chief executive John Fallon will step down as boss in 2020 once a successor has been appointed. It said it would return $350 million to investors through a share buyback.
Fallon said: “There’s a lot still to do but we’re making good progress in navigating Pearson through a period of huge change. We’re now a much more efficient company, able to innovate more quickly and scale globally.”
Sidney Taurel, chairman of Pearson, added: “In some very challenging markets, John has worked tirelessly leading Pearson through a period of significant change and led its transformation from a media conglomerate to a single-focused learning company.”
Pearson’s association with Penguin publishing goes back to 1970 when it bought the company that had published Lady Chatterley’s Lover a decade earlier.
Fallon added: “For almost 50 years, Pearson has been proud to play our part in the publishing and commercial success of first Penguin and then more recently Penguin Random House.”