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Cevian Opens Dialogue With Pearson

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Published: June 22nd, 2020
The educational publisher counts Swedish activist Cevian Capital among its shareholder rolls.

Educational publisher Pearson plc (PSO) counts Swedish activist Cevian Capital AB among its shareholder rolls.

Cevian said it has had discussions with leadership of London-based Pearson about “numerous operational and strategic opportunities to maximize shareholder value” as well as “opportunities to improve management,” in a 13D filing on Thursday, June 11. The firm disclosed a 5.4% stake.

Pearson’s leadership is changing this year. CEO John Fallon is retiring, and CFO Coram Williams stepped down in April.

Wall Street expects Pearson’s sales to fall to £3.5 billion ($4.4 billion) in 2020 from £3.9 billion ($4.9 billion) last year. The North American higher education unit is the company’s largest business. The company said in late April that sales in the first calendar quarter were down 5% because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but would otherwise have been roughly flat.

Moody’s Investors Service Inc. lowered its outlook for the publisher’s debt ratings in March, citing expectations for weak 2020 operating performance, industry pressures and the coronavirus outbreak.

The company did not immediately respond to a query by press time.

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