Pearson Shares Plummet on Outlook Warning and Restructuring Plans

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By Lianna Brinded | February 25, 2013 7:28 PM EST

(Photo: Reuters)

Pearson, owner of the Financial Times newspaper, will start a business restructuring programme costing £150m after warning investors of continual tough trading conditions and a flat outlook for 2013.

The British education and media group's shares sank by nearly 4 percent in early trading after it also revealed that 2012 full-year adjusted earnings per share fell 3 percent.

Pearson's new CEO John Fallon, who took over from long-serving Majorie Scardino in January this year, said in a statement on the group's website that the restructuring programme will deliver faster growth from 2015.

"Trading conditions are tough and structural changes mean many of our traditional publishing activities are under pressure. The restructuring of the company ... is designed to strengthen dramatically Pearson's position in digital education services and in our most important markets for the future," said Fallon in the statement.

While the restructuring programme will cost the group £150m (€172m / $227m) Pearson added that the strategy will end up recouping these costs and will generate around £100m of annual cost savings from 2014.

Although Pearson is viewed by investors as one of the most stable media groups in Britain, the group issued a rare downgrade to forecasts in January and shares took a hit, as sluggish advertising and weaker educational funding in developed markets bit into profits.

Meanwhile, the group is under close scrutiny as to whether it will sell its FT Group under the new CEO, who has few ties to the newspaper industry.

Media reports have suggested that Pearson is looking for at least £1bn for its lucrative FT Group, however Pearson has repeatedly denied it is looking for a buyer.

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