Pearson's Wily Dealmaker

Eyeing the Web, Scardino may have more in store

Marjorie Scardino knows when to grab an opportunity. The CEO of Pearson PLC, the British group that owns the Financial Times and Penguin Publishing Co., had long wanted to sell Pearson's 13.2% stake in the Lazard group of investment banks. She got her chance in June when Michel David-Weill, who controls Lazard, moved to combine his Paris, London, and New York operations. She asked him to buy Pearson out, and he agreed on June 24 to pay about $650 million for Pearson's stake. That was a lot more than David-Weill said he would shell out, according to a Lazard banker--but he paid up so he could move on to the bigger task of restructuring Lazard. Publicly, David-Weill says he thinks he paid a fair price.

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