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Pearson exits consumer publishing with Penguin Random House disposal

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Key Points
  • Pearson's sale of its stake in Penguin Random House to Bertelsmann will generate net proceeds of $675 million.
  • Pearson Chief Executive John Fallon set to retire in 2020.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

British education company Pearson said on Wednesday it would sell its remaining 25% stake in publisher Penguin Random House to German partner Bertelsmann, generating net proceeds of about $675 million.

The deal will end Pearson's association with consumer publishing that stretches back nearly 50 years to 1970 when it bought the company that had published "Lady Chatterley's Lover" a decade earlier.

The sale values the joint venture, created in 2013, at $3.67 billion, Pearson said, adding it would return $350 million to investors through a share buyback.

The group also said Chief Executive John Fallon would retire in 2020 once a successor had been appointed.

"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," Fallon said in a statement.

He said the disposal would enable Pearson to focus on its digital learning operations.

Penguin Random House reported revenue of $3.7 billion and operating profit of $467 million in 2018, and 68 million pounds ($87.24 million) after tax to Pearson's adjusted operating profit.