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Cengage Hires Pearson’s Education Sales Chief Stone

Cengage Learning Inc., the educational textbook company owned by Apax Partners LLP, named Kevin Stone as its chief sales and marketing officer, hiring away an executive from rival Pearson Plc.

Stone, 44, will report to Chief Executive Officer Michael Hansen, the company said today in a statement. Stone had been at Pearson for more than 20 years and ran sales at Pearson’s higher education unit since 2011. He will be based in Boston.

Under Stone’s leadership, Pearson’s sales group “consistently outperformed the industry over the last decade,” Cengage said. Hansen, who joined as CEO in September, is counting on the executive to help reverse a sales decline triggered by intensifying digital competition and fewer student enrollments.

Shrinking earnings and a drop in orders from a key distributor prompted Moody’s Investors Service to lower Cengage’s corporate rating by two levels last month.

London-based private-equity firm Apax Partners led a $7.75 billion acquisition of Cengage from Thomson Reuters Corp. in 2007. The company develops teaching materials for colleges, schools, libraries and corporations, and provides print and electronic publishing. Cengage acquired National Geographic Society’s school-publishing unit last year. Hansen, 51, took the reins as CEO from Ronald G. Dunn, who became executive chairman.

McGraw-Hill Cos. agreed last month to sell its education unit to Apollo Global Management LLC for $2.5 billion after deciding to focus on its financial-services business.

Pearson, meanwhile, agreed to combine its Penguin unit with Bertelsmann SE’s Random House in October to create the largest book publisher in the U.K. and the U.S.

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