Pearson plc, the international media group, has agreed the sale of its specialist Law and Tax publishing businesses to The Thomson Corporation for £70m - and announced that it is reshaping its information division to create a new integrated group, built around the strength of the Financial Times brand.
The new Financial Times Group will focus on providing the international finance and business community with news, analysis, comment and management development. David Bell, executive director of Pearson plc and chairman of the Financial Times Group, announced today that Stephen Hill, chief executive officer of the Financial Times newspaper, will become the group’s CEO.
David Bell said: "Today’s sale is part of the strategy of creating a more tightly knit business information group powered by the strength of the Financial Times brand. On-line and in print, we want the business community to look to us as the premium source of international business news, comment and analysis. We also aim to be the world’s leading provider of management development material. The task now is to sharpen up our operations and invest in our businesses so that we can fight our way to the very top of the markets in which we have chosen to compete."
The Law and Tax businesses publish "must have" technical and proprietary information for use by lawyers and law-related professionals in the UK, US and Asia. In 1997, they achieved a combined operating profit of £4.7m on sales of £21.5m. In addition to the £70m, Pearson will also retain cash associated with the businesses of £5.5m. The sale brings the amount raised by Pearson from the sale of its professional publishing businesses to around £130m.
The Financial Times Group, which replaces Pearson’s Information Division, consists of:
- The Financial Times newspaper. Pearson is investing £100m over five years in building the international circulation of the Financial Times. Daily circulation increased by 14% (year on year) to 342,000 in December 1997.
- A group of Financial Times branded businesses all aimed primarily at the corporate sector. Financial Times Electronic Publishing provides its corporate audience, via the FT.com website, with the very best general news and analysis, a new real time news alert system and specialist company information and financial data. Financial Times Business gathers and disseminates for the corporate sector specialist information on particular industries - energy, finance, media and telecommunications - where the group has a market leading position. Financial Times Management is a market leader in publishing management development material for professional and business managers.
- Financial Times Information is aimed at a more specialist audience. In the US and the UK, it is a leading supplier of data on equities and financial instruments used by investment managers for portfolio evaluation.
- Business Publishing in national markets. The group also publishes the best national business newspapers in a number of important markets. Les Echos is the leading French business and financial newspaper and is building a number of businesses around the Les Echos brand aimed at the French business community. Recoletos publishes "Expansion", Spain’s leading daily financial newspaper, and a number of related business information products. Pearson also owns a 50% stake in Business Day and Financial Mail of South Africa and a 20% stake in The Canadian Financial Post.
David Bell is responsible to the Pearson board for the overall strategy, direction and performance of the Financial Times Group, including investments, acquisitions and alliances. He is also responsible for the operations of Pearson’s other business publishing interests. As CEO, Stephen Hill will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of all businesses that carry the Financial Times name.
In the UK, FT Law and Tax publishes technical, legal, tax and regulatory information, with 90% of its revenues from legal products. Major titles include "Wilkinson’s Road Traffic Offences", "Emmet on Title" and "Totty and Moss on Insolvency." It publishes journals such as "The Solicitor" and "Company Lawyer." It also publishes titles aimed at the Asian market, such as Hong Kong Law Reports. In the US, Federal Publications specialises in information about Government and construction contracting and immigration. The sale of Federal Publications is subject to regulatory approval in the US. The net liabilities being sold amount to £1m.
In August last year, Pearson sold Churchill Livingstone, the medical publisher, to Harcourt General Inc for £56m and, earlier this year, Pearson sold Churchill Communications for £6m.
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