Forum And FT Knowledge Combine To Create Leading Corporate Training And E-Learning Company

FT Knowledge, Pearson plc's business education and management development operation, is to acquire The Forum Corporation, one of America's top corporate training companies, for $90m.

The merger of FT Knowledge and Forum will create one of the world's leading corporate training and e-Learning companies, delivering significant revenue synergies and a greatly enhanced service for customers. The combined business will command greater international reach and be able to deliver a much more comprehensive range of online and offline learning and training programmes to both individuals and corporations. It will offer a full range of accredited courses and qualifications (in partnership with a number of top business schools and professional bodies) across a wider range of business related subjects and be at the forefront of the rapidly growing e-learning market.

Commenting on the merger, Pippa Wicks, CEO of FT Knowledge, said "In the knowledge economy, the drive to learn new skills is one of the key factors that determines the success of individuals and companies. This increasing demand for highly skilled workers makes it a great time to be in corporate training and management development. Forum is a very successful training organisation and it makes a superb fit with FT Knowledge. Together, we have the scale, reach, content and technology to create one of the very best corporate training and eLearning companies."

John Humphrey, chairman and CEO of Forum, added: "The brands, products and services and capabilities of the combined organisations, together with the technology and content resources of Pearson, means that we can offer our clients unbeatable solutions. We at Forum are absolutely delighted to be working together with FT Knowledge to capture the exciting opportunities of the rapidly developing learning market."

Forum creates and implements learning strategies and corporate training programmes to over 130 of the Fortune 500 companies in leadership, management, sales, customer service and brand development. A growing number of US corporations are looking to "outsource" the management of all their training needs and Forum is the leading company in this market. It delivers many of its programmes online and is developing insightforum, a web-enabled training programme that enables staff managing customer relations to learn as an integral part of their day-to-day work. In the year ended 30 April 2000, Forum made sales of some $74m.

FT Knowledge specialises in business, management development and finance programmes for individuals and corporations. It is working with leading academic institutions to deliver a range of online executive management courses and business and finance qualifications. This year, the combined business is expected to have annual pro forma sales of over $110 million.

The merger of Forum and FT Knowledge will create a combined business that will be in a strong position to capitalise on the growing demand, from both corporations and individuals, for learning solutions and training programmes in executive development, sales, customer service, management, leadership and finance. In the US alone, IDC projects that the size of the corporate e-Learning market will increase from $1 billion in 1999 to over $11 billion in 2003.

The major benefits of the merger are:

 

  • Forum's strong US-based business, combined with FT Knowledge's market leadership in Europe, and the strong presence both companies have in Asia, creates a truly international business education and corporate training company.
  • Forum's focus on the corporate learning market fits well with FT Knowledge's strengths in creating, marketing and supporting degree programmes and accredited courses for individuals and corporations. Together with FT Knowledge's leading position in the provision of financial training to the investment and banking communities, this generates major opportunities to cross-sell products from a deeper, richer range of content to a much wider client base.
  • Forum's ability to meet the needs of corporations looking to "outsource" their training needs will be strengthened by the greater product range, extensive accreditation services and international reach that FT Knowledge brings.
  • Combining Forum's e-learning programmes with FT Knowledge's own online presence will accelerate the development of new Internet products that serve the rapidly growing corporate and distance learning markets.
  • These online products will also enrich the Business Education channel of Pearson's Learning Network, which aims to be the premier source of educational support spanning the entire career of a business professional. Professional resources, including certification programmes, career and executive consultation, subscription services and a wide range of hard and digital goods will be marketed and sold through the Learning Network.

Pippa Wicks will be CEO of the combined company. John Humphrey will chair the combined group's International Advisory Board and play a key role in the integration of the two businesses. The acquisition is subject to the approval of Forum shareholders and regulatory approval.

Notes for Editors:

FT Knowledge

FT Knowledge (FTK) is Pearson plc's business and management education division. FTK offers accredited degree and diploma programmes in association with partners ranging from professional institutions such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing to leading US and UK universities, including Wharton Business School and the University of Michigan Business School. FTK also provides learning consultancy, custom-designed management development, and design of learning resources and systems to major organisations throughout the world. A number of academic institutions use FTK course material as the basis for their own degree programmes and other courses. The New York Institute of Finance, part of FTK, provides specialised financial markets training to Wall Street and other financial centres. FTK also supports 25,000 students following programmes in more than 140 countries.

The Forum Corporation

The Forum Corporation is a global leader in workplace learning that specializes in helping large, leading companies create learning strategies, develop learning solutions, manage learning organisations and deploy their brand. For three decades, it has helped companies build competitive advantage and lasting customer loyalty, and improve leadership, management, team-building, sales, sales management and service excellence. Its customers include 132 members of the Fortune 500.

Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Forum offers comprehensive approaches to curriculum design and management, instructor services, e-Learning, executive coaching, implementation planning and measurement. Performance Compass, the company's award-winning web-based development system, combines cutting edge technology with comprehensive online 360° feedback and immediate access to world-class learning resources. Forum's co-founder, Chairman and CEO John W. Humphrey, is recognized as one of the US's foremost authorities on human resource development. He has served as chairman of the board of governors of the American Society for Training & Development, the industry's leading trade group. Among Forum's strategic partners are Harvard Business School Publishing, Strategic Management Group, and VIS Development Corp.

The Worldwide Corporate Training Market

The US corporate e-Learning market is projected to increase significantly over the next four years to over $11 billion in 2003 from $1 billion in 1999. A similar pattern of growth is projected in Europe and in Asia. There are a number of factors driving this growth:

 

  1. The evolution of the major world economies from a manufacturing base to one that is service and knowledge-based - a phenomenon evident in countries ranging from the United States to India.

  2. The rapidly changing business environment means that many more companies see training as an essential weapon to remain competitive. Equipping their employees with the skills needed to respond to new technologies and business processes is seen as necessary, not discretionary, expenditure.

  3. The shortage of skilled workers, combined with the emergence of training as a key tool to retain and motivate an increasingly mobile workforce.

  4. The increasing trend towards outsourcing training budgets to third parties, allowing the company to concentrate on its core competencies, decrease costs and improve margins, while, at the same time, offering employees a comprehensive range of training options and courses.

For further information
Pearson plc

John Fallon
+44 (0)20 7411 2310
john.fallon@pearson.com

FT Knowledge

Molly Jackson
+ 44 (0) 7974 917378

Forum

Patrick Collins
+ 1 617 371 3396