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Pearson to sell Wall Street English to consortium

By Wang Zhuoqiong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-29 07:19

Pearson PLC announced on Monday that it has agreed to sell Wall Street English to a consortium consisting of funds affiliated with Baring Private Equity Asia and CITIC Capital.

The transaction is expected to generate gross cash to Pearson of around $300 million.

"The sale of Wall Street English is part of our continued effort to focus on a smaller number of bigger opportunities in global education and to become simpler and more efficient," said John Fallon, Pearson's chief executive.

The improvement in Pearson net debt as a result of the transaction will be about $100 million as around $150 million of operating cash will be retained in the disposed business. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2018 subject to regulatory approval being obtained.

Baring Private Equity Asia is one of the largest and most established independent private equity firms in Asia. The CITIC Capital Holdings Limited is an alternative investment management and advisory company.

In February 2017, Pearson announced that it was exploring strategic options to shift away from large-scale direct delivery services, including a potential partnership for WSE and the sale of Global Education. The former international media company has shifted to education products after the sale of its FT Group to Nikkei Inc for 844 million pounds ($1.124 billion) in cash in 2015.

"After extensive review of options for WSE, we have concluded that the full disposal of WSE is the approach best aligned with our objective to simplify Pearson and focus on fewer, bigger opportunities," said the company.

In 2016, WSE had 180,000 learners and operated 70 corporate owned centers in China, nine corporate owned centers in Italy and 321 franchised centers across 27 markets. It contributed 175 million pounds in revenue, an adjusted operating profit of 7 million pounds and a statutory operating profit of 4 million pounds.

Pearson's remaining business in China would be focusing on Edexcel, which is an academic service helping those seeking general qualifications such as a general certificate of secondary education (GCSE), A levels and International GCSEs, as well as some vocational qualifications. The company didn't address the future of its operations in China.

In August, Pearson completed the sale of Global Education (GEDU) to Puxin Education at the price of $80 million. GEDU is a leading provider of English language training and test preparation for Chinese students wishing to study abroad.

In 2016, GEDU served 64,000 learners with revenue of 78 million pounds and an adjusted operating loss of 4 million pounds. Puxin Education is a private education company providing tutorial programs for K-12 education, overseas test prep and college admission counseling services in more than 30 cities in China.

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