Pearson Agrees to Acquire U.S.’s Schoolnet for $230 Million

Pearson Plc, the owner of the Financial Times newspaper, said it agreed to buy education-technology company Schoolnet for $230 million in cash.

Schoolnet, which uses data to boost learning at schools, is based in New York and serves more than 5 million students from pre-kindergarten age through to 12th grade in the U.S., Pearson said today. Through partnerships with districts and states, Schoolnet covers a third of the country’s largest cities.

Pearson, which also owns the book publisher Penguin, received about 80 percent of its earnings from education in 2010 and has been expanding through so-called bolt-on acquisitions with proceeds from last year’s sale of Interactive Data Corp. in the U.S. for $3.4 billion. Pearson, based in London, has made nine acquisitions or offers for education companies in the past 12 months in countries including the U.K., India, South Africa and the U.S.

The Schoolnet acquisition will be “broadly neutral to earnings per share” for Pearson this year and add to adjusted earnings per share and return on invested capital in 2012, the company said.

Pearson shares rose as much as 1.6 percent to 1,149 pence in London trading and were up 1.3 percent as of 9:49 a.m.

Government Support

The U.S. administration supports data systems that improve preparedness for college and has allocated some $17 billion to districts and states to support school improvement, Pearson said.

Pearson said in February that 2010 profit rose 21 percent as the company benefited from investments in emerging markets and digital operations. Digital revenue accounted for 29 percent of the company’s sales, and emerging markets made up 10 percent.

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