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Pearson sells US school textbook business

Education giant says move ‘frees us up to focus on the digital-first strategy’

Pearson has sold its US school textbook business.

Education giant says move ‘frees us up to focus on the digital-first strategy’

One of Britain’s biggest education companies has sold its school textbook company in America, as it focuses on its digital strategy to generate future growth.

Pearson, which owns the Edexcel exam board, has sold its US K12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) "courseware" business to private-equity firm Nexus Capital for £193.5 million.

But Pearson told Tes that there was “no read across to the UK market”, where the company still publishes school textbooks and owns the Edexcel exam board.

John Fallon, Pearson's chief executive, said: "School publishing in America has been an important part of Pearson for many years, and what it does matters to teachers and students across the country.

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“We're pleased to have found new owners who are committed to its future, and we wish it every success.

“The sale frees us up to focus on the digital-first strategy that will drive our future growth.

“Through our assessment, virtual school, advanced placement and career and technical education programmes, we will still serve schools across America and we will now be better placed to focus on the areas in which we can best help their students to be successful in their studies and future careers." 

The K12 business employs approximately 1,330 people, and generated about £364m in revenue and £20m in profits in 2018.

Money raised from the sale will be used for general corporate purposes, and the deal will see Pearson bank an initial cash payment of £19.3m, with the remainder to be paid over seven years.

The group, which has been selling assets such as the Financial Times and the Economist, has had a wider plan of moving towards a focus on the education sector.

Mr Fallon's programme also includes efforts to slash Pearson's debt.

Pearson is further undergoing a cost-efficiency programme, with about £130m of cost savings having been delivered in 2018 and with more to come.

Figures released by exams watchdog Ofqual last week showed that Pearson’s share of the GCSE market fell from 28 per cent in 2016-17 to 26 per cent in 2017-18.

At the same time, the company’s share of the A-level market remained level at 25 per cent.

Also last week, the company was awarded contracts to deliver T levels in design, surveying and planning, as well as digital production, design and development. 

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