FT Group chief executive Rona Fairhead leaves after 12 years

THE CHIEF executive of the Financial Times Group stepped down yesterday, in a move that is likely to heighten speculation that the newspaper’s owner Pearson is looking to sell it off.

Rona Fairhead, who spent 12 years at Pearson, and six as head of the FT Group, is departing after missing out on the chief executive position at the publisher following the appointment of John Fallon as Marjorie Scardino’s successor.

“The leadership transition at Pearson makes this a natural moment for me to make a change,” she said yesterday.

Fallon, who will become chief executive of Pearson at the end of the year, is currently head of the group’s profit-raking educational division, and is understood to be less wedded to the FT Group – which owns a 50 per cent stake in the Economist as well as the newspaper – than Scardino. Pearson did not announce a successor to Fairhead yesterday.

As head of the FT Group, Fairhead has overseen a number of sales, including French newspaper group Les Echos and its 50 per cent stake in FTSE International.

Scardino paid a glowing tribute to Fairhead. “She has led a fundamental restructuring and refocusing of the FT Group, including its successful development of digital businesses, and leaves a strong organisation with a bright future in a highly challenging industry,” she said.

Last month, Pearson merged its book publishing division Penguin with Random House, owned by German powerhouse Bertelsmann.