Pearson chief executive Scardino to step down
PEARSON CHIEF executive Marjorie Scardino is to step down after 16 years, departing earlier than expected in a move that could clear the way for the global education and media group to sell the Financial Times newspaper.
The first female chief executive of a FTSE 100 company had previously declared that the famous pink-paged FT title would be sold “over my dead body”.
Analysts say the new chief executive John Fallon, with his non-publishing background, could be willing to think again as neither the FT nor Penguin Books fully fit with the Education division which became the dominant force under Scardino.
“Ms Scardino was a big fan of the FT and resisted attempts to sell the business,” Ian Whittaker at Liberum said.
The 65-year-old Scardino, who has dual US and British citizenship and was made a Dame in 2002, has earned huge respect for her stewardship of the group which she transformed from a sprawling conglomerate of media and leisure assets, to nearly triple revenues in her more than 15 years in charge.
She will step down at the end of the year and be replaced by Fallon, the chief executive of Pearson’s International Education division since 2008. boss
Analysts said the choice showed where the group’s priorities lay and that the 50-year-old Fallon would now have to also focus on the large education business in the US, hit by tight school budgets.
The International Education division was described as fundamental to Pearson’s growth strategy, although the appointment of Fallon surprised some analysts who had seen other executives within the group as the leading candidates.
Shares in the group were down 0.6 per cent, slightly underperforming a flat FTSE Index.
Both Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters have been named as possible suitors of the FT in the last year but analysts note that Pearson has a strong balance sheet and does not need to sell.
Asked if he was committed to the FT Group, Fallon responded: “I very much recognise and value the FT as an important and valuable part of the company.” Analysts value the FT Group, which also includes a 50 per cent stake in the Economist and other assets, at about £750 million. – (Reuters)