Italy’s Exor boosts stake in The Economist Group

The Italian investment firm Exor has increased its ownership in The Economist Group after British publishing company, Pearson, sold its 50 percent stake in the group.

Italy's Exor boosts stake in The Economist Group
Italy's Exor has boosted its stake in The Economist Group. Photo: PhiIippe Lopez/AFP

Pearson made the announcement in a statement, saying its 50 percent stake would be sold for £469 million (€663 million, $730 million).

The sale is being split between The Economist Group itself and Exor, which is controlled by the Agnelli family. The investment firm already had a 4.72 percent stake in the group.

“Exor has agreed to purchase 27.8 percent of The Economist Group's ordinary shares for consideration of £227.5 million (€319 million) and all of the B special shares for consideration of £59.5 million (€83.6 million) from Pearson,” the statement said.

“Pearson's remaining ordinary shares will be repurchased by The Economist Group for a total consideration of £182 million (€255 million).”

The sale forms part of major restructuring at Pearson, which wants to focus solely on its education publishing business.

It last month announced plans to sell The Economist Group, which includes also and the Economist Intelligence Unit, as it revealed a deal to sell the Financial Times newspaper to Japanese digital media group Nikkei.

“Pearson is now 100 percent focused on our global education strategy,” its chief executive John Fallon said in Wednesday's statement.

“The world of education is changing rapidly and we see great opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality learning globally.”

Pearson described The Economist as “one of the world's leading weekly business and current affairs publications with a circulation of around 1.6 million”.


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Fiat eye stake in Corriere publisher

Trading in RCS Mediagroup, the publisher of Italy's best-selling newspaper Corriere della Sera, was suspended on Monday after its price soared on the news that auto giant Fiat could become its biggest shareholder.

Fiat eye stake in Corriere publisher
On Friday Fiat said it is looking to almost double its stake in RCS Mediagroup. Photo: Geoff Robins/AFP

Trading was suspended after the company stock shot up 25.91 percent to €1.73.

On Friday, Fiat said it is looking to almost double its stake in RCS from 10.5 percent to 20.1 percent following a €400 million capital increase which ends July 5th.

The transaction would see Italy's Agnelli family extend its reach into the news business.

Investors hailed the news, which is likely to boost the value of the debt-laden RCS and permit the company to launch a turn-around plan.

Fresh developments regarding the capital hike are expected to come this week, with analysts in particular watching closely to see whether Italian businessman Diego Della Valle, who owns a 8.7 percent stake in the group, will take part.

Fiat chairman John Elkann, who in May joined the board of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, on Monday refuted Italian media reports of a possible alliance with the Australian-born media baron.

"Today, the objective is to give RCS a structure which allows it to be the great Italian editorial group that it is. Today, the most important thing is guaranteeing stability," Elkann was quoted as saying by Italian media.

RCS will use the fresh capital to offset losses and is laying off employees and selling assets. The company reported a net loss in the first quarter of €107.1 million.