Pearson shares surge on restructuring plans

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London (AFP) – British publisher Pearson sent its share price rocketing Friday after the group launched a new cost-cutting plan and put its US schoolbooks division up for sale.

In late morning trade, Pearson shares soared 13.75 percent to 748.50 pence on London’s FTSE 100 index, which was almost flat.

Pearson, which has issued a series of profit warnings in recent years, revealed Friday that it will slash its costs by £300 million ($387 million, 354 million euros) on an annualised basis by the end of 2019.

The group added that its trading in the first quarter of this year was in line with expectations, with underlying sales rising by six percent.

“Though the bulk of our sales come later in the year, our first-quarter trading is encouraging and in line with expectations,” said chief executive John Fallon.

“We are creating a leaner Pearson, equipped to innovate and win in digital education.

“The measures we are announcing today build on the work completed last year and will allow us to further simplify our portfolio, reduce costs and accelerate our digital transformation.”

Pearson has already stripped £650 million in costs out of the business over the last four years.

The publisher is largely dependent on the education market, after it shed the Financial Times newspaper and half of the Economist Group in 2015.

    <figure><figcaption>Pearson has issued a series of profit warnings in recent years and will now slash its costs by &pound;300 million on an annualised basis by the end of 2019
        <span>Copyright AFP/File PHILIPPE DESMAZES</span>
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