Pearson PLC

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Pearson plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSEPSON]
Industry Media
Founded 1844
London, United Kingdom
Founder Samuel Pearson
Headquarters 80 Strand
London, United Kingdom
Key people
Glen Moreno (Chairman)
John Fallon (CEO)
Products Publishing (books, newspapers, magazines)
Services Educational assessment
School management
Higher education
Revenue £4,874 million (2014)[1]
£398 million (2014)[1]
£242 million (2014)[1]

Pearson PLC is a British multinational publishing and education company headquartered in London. It is the largest education company and the largest book publisher in the world.[2][3]

Pearson holds 47% in Penguin Random House, the world's largest consumer book publisher, and 50% stake in the Economist Group, the publishing group which specialises in international business.

Pearson has a primary listing on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It has a secondary listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American Depository Receipts.


1844 to 1915[edit]

The company was founded by Samuel Pearson in 1844 as a building and engineering concern operating in Yorkshire under the name of S. Pearson & Son.[4] In 1880, control passed to his grandson Weetman Dickinson Pearson, an engineer, who in 1890 moved the business to London and turned it into one of the world's largest construction companies.[4] The company built the Blackwall Tunnel between 1892 and 1897.[5] In November 1915, the firm began construction of HM Factory, Gretna, the largest cordite factory in the UK during World War I.[6]

1915 to 1990[edit]

In 1919, the firm acquired a 45% stake in the London branch of merchant bankers Lazard Brothers, an interest which was increased to 80% in 1932 during the depression years. Pearson continued to hold a 50% stake until 1999.[7] In 1921, Pearson purchased a number of local daily and weekly newspapers in the United Kingdom, which it combined to form the Westminster Press group.[4] In 1957, it bought the Financial Times[4] and acquired a 50% stake in The Economist. It purchased the publisher Longman in 1968.[4]

The company was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1969.[4] It went on to buy paperback publisher Penguin in 1970,[4] and in 1972, children's imprint Ladybird Books. In 1986, Pearson invested in the British Satellite Broadcasting consortium, which, a few years later merged with Sky TV to form a new company, British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).[8]

1990 to 2000[edit]

During the 1990s, Pearson acquired a number of TV production and broadcasting assets (including former ITV franchisee Thames Television) and sold most of its non-media assets, under the leadership of future U.S. Congressman Bob Turner. Westminster Press was sold to Newsquest in 1996.[9] Pearson acquired the education division of HarperCollins in 1996 from News Corporation [10] and Simon & Schuster in 1998 from Viacom and merged it with its own education unit, Addison-Wesley Longman to form Pearson Education.[11]

2000 to 2005[edit]

In 2000, Pearson acquired Dorling Kindersley, the illustrated reference publisher and integrated it within Penguin.[12] In 2002, Pearson purchased Rough Guides, the travel publisher, and brought it under Penguin.

In September 2000, Pearson acquired National Computer Systems and entered the educational assessment and school management systems market in the United States.[13]

In 2002, Pearson sold its 22% stake in RTL Group.[14] for 1.5 billion Euros.

In 2003 acquired Edexcel, the UK's largest qualifications provider.[15]

In 2004, Pearson acquired about 80% stake in Meximerica Media Inc for $16.5 million for the swelling U.S. Hispanic market.[16]

Pearson subsequently purchased a series of other testing and assessment businesses, including Knowledge Technologies in 2004,[17] AGS in 2005,[18] and National Evaluation Systems[19] and Promissor in 2006.[20]

2005 to 2012[edit]

In April 2006, Pearson acquired National Evaluation Systems, a provider of customised state assessments for teacher certification in the US.[21]

In May 2007, Pearson announced that it had agreed to acquire Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International from Reed Elsevier for $950m in cash.[22] Pearson completed the acquisition of Harcourt Assessment on 30 January 2008, merging the acquired businesses into Pearson Assessment & Information.[23]

In 2007, Pearson acquired eCollege, a digital learning technology group for $477m.[24]

In February 2008, Pearson announced the sale of its Pearson Data Management Division (formerly the scanner manufacturing and servicing division of NCS Inc.) to Scantron Corporation (part of M&F Worldwide) which had been its main competitor.[25]

In 2009, Pearson acquired Wall Street English for $145m.[26]

In 2010, Pearson acquired the school learning systems division of Sistema Educacional Brasileiro (SEB) for $497m.[27]

In 2010, Pearson sold its 61% stake in Interactive Data to investment funds managed by Silver Lake Partners and Warburg Pincus for $2 billion.[28]

In July 2011 Pearson announced the creation of Pearson College, a British degree provider based in London and Manchester.[29][30] Also in 2011, Pearson acquired Connections Education and agreed to sell its 50% stake in FTSE International Limited to the London Stock Exchange for £450 million.[31]

Pearson entered into talks with rival conglomerate Bertelsmann, over the possibility of combining their respective publishing companies, Penguin Group and Random House in October 2012. The houses are considered two of the "Big Six" publishing companies.[32] On 29 October 2012, Pearson said it would merge Penguin Books with Bertelsmann's Random House to create the world's biggest consumer book publisher.[33]

In May 2012 Pearson announced its acquisition of GlobalEnglish Corporation, a Silicon Valley, California Business English software and solutions company, in an all-cash transaction.[34]

2013 to present[edit]

In May 2013, Pearson announced a new restructuring plan to invest in digital learning and emerging markets, after predicting weaker earnings.[35]

The change supports the decoupling of the Penguin consumer publishing business into a separate entity with Random House (forming Penguin Random House). The new structure combines the separate education companies, Pearson International and Pearson North America under one Pearson company. Pearson will organize around three global lines of business – School, Higher Education and Professional. The Financial Times Group and Pearson English will form part of Pearson Professional.[36]

In July 2014, Pearson announced it had cut 4,000 jobs, representing 10% of the company's workforce.[37]


80 Strand in London, the headquarters of Pearson

Pearson is now organised into three main business groupings: Pearson School, Pearson Higher Education and Pearson Professional (includes Financial Times Group and Pearson English). In 2011 Pearson generated total revenues of £5.9 billion, of which £4,390 million were from Pearson Education, £1,045 million from Penguin Group, and £427 million from Financial Times Group.[38] In 2011, 60% of Pearson's revenues were generated in North America, 23% in Europe, 11% in Asia, and 6% in the rest of the world.[38]

Pearson School[edit]

Pearson School was created when the School businesses from Pearson International and Pearson North America were merged in 2013. They provide textbooks and digital technologies to teachers and students across school ages. Pearson's school brands include BTEC, Bug Club, Edexcel, Fronter, GradPoint, PowerSchool, Schoolnet, and SuccessNet.

Pearson Higher Education[edit]

Pearson Higher Education was created when the Higher Education businesses from Pearson International and Pearson North America were merged in 2013. They provide textbooks and digital technologies to teachers and students across Higher Education. Pearson's higher education brands include eCollege, Mastering/MyLabs and Financial Times Publishing.

Pearson Professional[edit]

Pearson Professional includes the Financial Times Group, Pearson English, and Pearson VUE. The FT Group provides business and financial news, data, comment and analysis, in print and online. FT Publishing includes: the Financial Times newspaper and website; a range of specialist financial magazines and online services; and Mergermarket, a financial data vendor.[38] The FT Group also has shareholdings in The Economist Group (50% stake).[38]

Pearson English provides textbooks, digital technologies and education services to teachers and students across English-language learning. Pearson English is made up of: Global English, English language e-Learning for large corporations; Wall Street English, English language schools for business professionals; and Pearson ELT, English language textbooks and e-Learning business.

Pearson VUE is a provider in electronic testing for regulatory and certification boards.


Concerns exist around the amount of influence a for-profit company (Pearson) has on public education.[39] Other concerns are around the multi-million dollar contracts, and in one instance, laying off teachers offset the high costs of testing.[40]

United Kingdom[edit]

Pearson owns Edexcel, an examination board.[41] Edexcel has produced qualifications which link to Pearson texts, although Edexcel also continues to endorse textbooks published by other companies.[15]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Jones, Philip (21 June 2010). "Pearson stays on top as world's largest book publisher". The Bookseller. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "Private equity to buy Pearson's IDC for $3.4 billion". Reuters. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 18 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Our History". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  5. ^ 'Southern Blackwall: The Blackwall Tunnel', Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 640-645. Date accessed: 17 March 2013
  6. ^ John Alfred Spender (1977). Weetman Pearson, First Viscount Cowdray, 1856-1927. p. 222. ISBN 0-405-09801-4. The Pearson firm took up the work of construction managers in October 
  7. ^ Andrew Garfield (25 June 1999). "Dragging Lazards into the 21st century". The Independent (London). 
  8. ^ "Granada and Pearson sell BSB stake BBC News, 1998". BBC News. 17 December 1998. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  9. ^ "Pearson Sees Profits Fall 40 Percent, Selling Westminster Press Unit". Associated Press. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  10. ^ Gilpin, Kenneth N. (1996-02-10). "Pearson to Buy a Publisher From News Corp.". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2014-08-23. 
  11. ^ "Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst to acquire Simon & Schuster's Reference, Business and Professional Divisions". 18 May 1998. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  12. ^ "Pearson buys Dorling Kindersley". BBC News. 31 March 2000. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Pearson buys NCS". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Pearson agrees to sell 22% stake in RTL Group". 2001. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Rebecca Smithers and Kevin Massy (30 June 2003). "New marking fiasco". The Guardian (UK). Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Pearson Acquires Newspaper Concern For Hispanic Market". 
  17. ^ "Pearson Knowledge Technologies". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  18. ^ Pearson buys AGS Publishing[dead link]
  19. ^ "Pearson Education has agreed to buy National Education Systems". 1 May 2006. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  20. ^ Pearson buys Promissor[dead link]
  21. ^ "NES sold to global company". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved 26 April 2006. 
  22. ^ "Pearson acquires Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International from Reed Elsevier". Pearson. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Pearson Completes Acquisition of Harcourt Assessment". Assessment & Information group of Pearson. Retrieved 16 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "Pearson To Acquire eCollege". Campus Technology. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "M & F Worldwide Corp. Completes the Acquisition of Pearson's Data Management Business" (Press release). Pearson PLC. 22 February 2008. Retrieved 8 March 2008. 
  26. ^ "Pearson buys Wall Street Institute for $92m in cash". The Book seller. 29 July 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  27. ^ "Pearson Buys Sistema Learning Unit for $499 Million". Bloomberg. 22 July 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "Pearson sells IDC stake for $2bn". The Guardian. 4 May 2010. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "Royal Holloway to validate new Pearson degree". Times Higher Education. 4 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  30. ^ "FT owners plan college for business degrees". The Guardian. 14 August 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  31. ^ "Pearson to sell FTSE stake for £450m". The Guardian. 12 December 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Penguin and Random House in merger talks
  33. ^ "Random, Penguin merging to form leading publisher". Reuters. 29 October 2012. 
  34. ^ "Pearson’s world-leading English learning business strengthens its position in the corporate market". GlobalEnglish. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  35. ^ Young, Sarah (25 February 2013). "Pearson sees 2013 flat, begins restructuring plan". Reuters (Thomson Reuters). Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  36. ^ Gordon, Kathy (2013-05-23). "Pearson Details Restructuring". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-06-26. 
  37. ^ Orihuela, Rodrigo; Schweizer, Kristen (25 July 2014). "Pearson Cutting 4,000 Jobs as First-Half Sales Decline". Bloomberg. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  38. ^ a b c d "Annual Report and Accounts 2011". Pearson. Retrieved 17 November 2012. 
  39. ^ "Should Pearson, a giant multinational, be influencing our education policy?". The Guardian UK. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  40. ^ "Pearson Draws Criticism From New York to Texas… Justified? Or Unjustified?". Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  41. ^ "The Senior Management Team". Pearson Edexcel. 

External links[edit]