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Pearson Says Financial Times Chief Fairhead to Step Down

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Pearson Plc said Rona Fairhead, the head of its Financial Times unit, will leave and step down from the company’s board in April next year.

The London-based company didn’t give a reason for Fairhead’s departure in an e-mailed statement, apart from saying that the executive is “ready to tackle a new set of challenges.” Investec Securities analyst Steve Liechti said last month that Fairhead may leave the company because she didn’t get the top job when Chief Executive Officer Marjorie Scardino announced her departure the same month.

Pearson is emphasizing its education business as new CEO John Fallon prepares to take the reins from Scardino, who retires in January. The company wouldn’t rule out a sale of the Financial Times as Chief Financial Officer Robin Freestone this month told investors that the company may eventually re- examine its ownership of the newspaper.

A Pearson spokesman said Fairhead’s decision to leave was “completely unrelated” to the ownership of the Financial Times. Fallon, who takes over from Scardino Jan. 1, visited the Financial Times’ offices last week and said the newspaper was not for sale, according to the spokesman.

The newspaper that was first printed on pink paper in 1893 and was bought by Pearson in 1957 employs more than 600 journalists and has combined paid print and digital circulation of about 600,000.

The company has been working to increase digital subscriptions to compensate for a decline in print sales. The FT Group reported sales that rose 6.4 percent to 216 million pounds ($347 million) in the first half. Adjusted operating profit grew 4.8 percent to 22 million pounds. It accounts for about 8 percent of revenue and 12 percent of profit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amy Thomson in London at athomson6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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