Acquisition spree rolls on at Pearson

Steve Dinneen
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Pearson yesterday announced the latest in a string of acquisitions of fast growing educational firms.

The publisher said it will buy US educational technology firm Schoolnet for $230m (£140m).

The acquisition is part of Pearson’s core growth strategy following the sale of its 61 per cent stake in Interactive Data Corporation (IDC) in May 2010.

Pearson has targeted firms in growing markets such as India, Brazil and South Africa and focused on growth sectors in mature markets like the US and the UK.

It has spent more than $1.4bn since raking in $2bn from the IDC sale.

Schoolnet’s data tools allow teachers to personalise learning, and currently serve more than 5m US students from pre-school through to secondary education in about a third of America’s largest cities.

Chief executive Marjorie Scardino said: “Being able to offer a connective digital spine for learning has been Pearson’s goal for years.”

The company said the acquisition should be broadly neutral to earnings in 2011, including integration costs, and should boost adjusted earnings in 2012.

The publisher, which owns the world’s largest education business, the Financial Times and Penguin books, last month reported an 18 per cent rise in full-year profits on eight per cent higher sales of £5.66bn.

April 2011: Announces acquisition of Schoolnet, a fast-growing education technology company, for $230m in cash.

March 2011: Makes cash offer of £113m for vocational and professional education company Education Development International.

January 2011: Increased to a controlling 76 per cent its shareholding in Indian education company TutorVista for a consideration of $127m.

November 2010: Acquires The Administrative Assistants, a provider of student information systems for an undisclosed sum.

August 2010: Acquires America’s Choice, a leading provider of school improvement services, for $80m.

July 2010: Acquires English-language teaching company Wall Street Institute from an affiliate of the The Carlyle Group and Citi Private Equity for $92m.

July 2010: Acquires the school systems business of Sistema Educacional Brasileiro (SEB) of Brazil for £326m.

May 2010: Announces a recommended cash offer for vocational training company Melorio, for about £99m. The offer was declared unconditional in all respects in June 2010.