Friday 12 June 2020 9:30 am

Pearson shares rocket as Cevian Capital snaps up stake

Pearson shares surged almost 10 per cent this morning after activist investor Cevian Capital unmasked a 5.4 per cent stake in the firm.

A regulatory filing in the US yesterday showed Stockholm-based investor Cevian Capital has taken a stake of 40.6m shares in Pearson.

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Shares in the educational publisher were up 9.7 per cent to 562.6p at 09.30 BST on the FTSE this morning.

“We have an open, ongoing dialogue with all our shareholders,” a Pearson spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.

Cevian said: “We have followed Pearson closely for several years. The company has a collection of leading businesses in attractive markets, but several of those businesses have yet to delivery on their full potential.”

“Based on our analysis, we see no reason Pearson’s businesses shouldn’t outperform their competitors and produce attractive, growing and predictable returns.”

The Swedish investor manages more than €13bn worth of shares in businesses around the world, and usually pushes for strategy shake-ups in the companies it invests in.

“We look forward to working with [Pearson] to realise its full potential,” Cevian added.

It comes as Pearson last year made the tough transition to become digital-first as interest in physical educational material wanes.

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Sales of Pearson’s educational textbooks have plummeted 90 per cent from 21m in 2012 to just 2m expected sales in 2020.

The focus on producing digital material comes as children around the world are forced to turn to online classrooms. Schools remain shuttered during lockdown, and education secretary Gavin Williamson this week said they were likely to remain closed until at least September.

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