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Here’s why we sold the FT, Economist: Pearson CEO

The Financial Times and The Economist were sold to help Pearson's push into education become "one of the great global growth stories of the next decade," the company's chief executive told CNBC.

Despite its lengthy ownership of the Financial Times and its stake in the Economist Group (owner of The Economist magazine), Pearson has focused on consolidating its place as the world's leading education company in recent years. It offers a range of public school exams as well as online and traditional educational resources for schools, universities and professionals.

"We are tying our future to what I think is going to be one of the great global growth stories of the next decade," John Fallon told CNBC on Friday.

"Parents in countries around the world, rich and poor, the single thing that matters to them most is equipping their kids with the skills and the knowledge to go to university, to learn English as a foreign language, because that's what's going to get them a better job and a better start in life and that's what we're lining Pearson up to and it's a huge opportunity for us."


A copy of the Financial Times newspaper is seen alongside other British newspapers displayed for sale in a newsagents in London on July 23, 2015.
Niklas Hallen | AFP | Getty Images
A copy of the Financial Times newspaper is seen alongside other British newspapers displayed for sale in a newsagents in London on July 23, 2015.

In July, Pearson announced its intention to sell the FT Group to Japanese media organization Nikkei Inc for £844 million after the Japanese media group it pipped Germany's Axel Springer to the post.

Pearson simultaneously announced it was in talks to sell its 50 percent stake in the Economist Group. Shortly afterwards it reported that 60 percent of its shares would be bought for £287 million by Exor, an existing shareholder in the Economist Group, with the other 40 percent to be bought back by the Economist Group.

This has piqued rumors that Pearson might also look to sell its 47 percent stake in Penguin Random House, a book publishing giant that arguably falls outside of the company's educational focus.

"It's not on the block," Fallon told CNBC. "That's something that maybe we'll consider somewhere in the future, but not today."

The FTSE 100-listed company has a market capitalization of around £9.4 billion ($14.7 billion). It posted adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of 4.4 pence in the first half of 2015, when it raised its dividend by 6 percent to 18 pence.