Pearson sells Economist Group stake for £469m

The deal, a fait accompli following Pearson’s sale of the Financial Times to Nikkei for £844m last month, will see a major change in the power structure of the major shareholders that control the Economist Group.

Exor, the investment company led by the 39-year-old Fiat heir John Elkann, has paid £287m to increase its stake from 4.7 per cent to 43.4 per cent and become the single largest shareholder in the Economist Group.

Elkann, who is already on the publisher’s board, will also have the right to select six of the 13-strong board members.

A spokesman for the company said no immediate changes in the composition of the board are planned.

“By increasing our investment in the Economist we are delighted to affirm our role as one of the group’s long-term supportive shareholders, along with the Cadbury, Layton, Rothschild and Schroder families and other individual stable investors,” said Elkann.

Pearson has also sold part of its stake to the Economist Group directly, 5.04m ordinary shares for £182m, which it is using to give all existing shareholders a 25 per cent increase in their existing holding.

This means that the Rothschild family, now the second biggest shareholder in the Economist, will see its stake rise from 21 per cent to 25 per cent.

The overall deal includes an amendment to the group’s articles that will mean that there is a 20 per cent voting cap for any individual shareholder, designed to safeguard the independence of the company and the editorial independence of the Economist.

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