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Britain's Pearson In Talks To Sell Stake In The Economist Group

Georg Kapsch, President of the Federation of Austrian Industry, holds an issue of <em>The Economist</em> during a news conference in Vienna last year. Britain's Pearson PLC says it's in talks to sell its 50 percent share in The Economist Group.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

Britain's Pearson PLC — just days after announcing it would sell The Financial Times — has made public that it is engaged in talks to dump its 50 percent stake in The Economist Group.

"Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50 percent share in the group," the company said in a statement on Saturday. "There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction."

Reuters reports that Italian holding company Exor, which now has a 4.72 percent stake in The Economist Group, is in talks with Pearson to increase its share.

The venerable Economist, a weekly news magazine that calls itself a newspaper, is known for its cogent analysis of international affairs and a wry wit.

Politico reports:

"Existing Economist shareholders led by John Elkann, heir to the Italian Agnelli industrial fortune and a member of the magazine's board, are working on a potential buyout of Pearson's stake, according to people familiar with the talks.

"Mr. Elkann was not immediately available for comment, an aide said.

"Sources said that Pearson could get as much as £500 million for its stake, although the price is subject to ongoing negotiations."

The Wall Street Journal adds:

"The publisher makes most of its revenue from educational services underpinned by its operations in North America. It has a 50% non-controlling stake in The Economist Group which publishes The Economist, a weekly business and international news publication with a paid circulation of 1.6 million.

"The group's businesses include data research firm Economist Intelligence Unit as well as other related assets such as The Economist Events and The Economist Corporate Network."

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