Pearson to sell Wall Street English for $300m

Pearson to sell Wall Street English for $300m

Pearson has agreed to sell its English language business Wall Street English (WSE) to a group of funds affiliated with Baring Private Equity Asia and CITIC Capital for $300 (£225m).

As a result of the deal, Pearson's net debt will only improve by $100m, however, as around $150m of operating cash will be retained in the disposed business and $50m spent on tax and transaction fees.

The transaction, rumoured to be "near" since the start of November, is expected to close in the first half of 2018, subject to regulatory approvals.  

It follows c.e.o. John Fallon's comments last February that the company was looking at cost savings this year "urgently" after facing challenges in the US education market. At the time the company said it was exploring options to shift away from large-scale direct delivery services, including a potential partnership for WSE and the sale of Global Education (GEDU).

According to Pearson, after an "extensive" review of options for WSE, it concluded the full disposal of WSE was "the approach best aligned with our objective to simplify Pearson and focus on fewer bigger opportunities".

"The sale of Wall Street English is part of our continued effort to focus on a smaller number of bigger opportunities in global education and to become simpler and more efficient," commented c.e.o. John Fallon.

In May, it undertook to reduce costs by £300m. In August, it agreed the sale of its English test preparation business, Global Education (GEDU), to Puxin Education to generate $80m, and also plans to slash another 3,000 jobs by 2020.

In October Pearson completed the sale of a 22% stake in Penguin Random House to co-shareholder Bertelsmann.

Previously it had a 50% stake in the Economist and owned the FT. Both assets were sold off in 2015.