Pearson Quits TV; Sells Stake in RTL to Bertelsmann

27 December 2001

The wheel has turned full circle at UK media conglomerate Pearson.

With the sale to Bertelsmann of its sole remaining TV asset - a 22% stake in pan-European TV and radio broadcaster RTL - Pearson has finally abandoned the last of its diversifications (distractions, many believe) to return to its roots as a newspaper and information publisher.

According to Pearson finance director John Makinson, no further disposals are slated and the RTL sale allows the group to focus on its publishing and educational businesses. There is “nothing in the Pearson portfolio right now with a for-sale label on it”, he insists.

Funds from the sale – £914 million (E1.5 billion; $1.33bn) – will be used to reduce current debt levels to around £1.5bn after the sale, scheduled for completion in February. Says Makinson: “That is a level that I am comfortable with. I don't see any need for it to go higher, and I wouldn't like to see it much lower.”

News sources: Financial Times; New York Times