In a statement issued this morning, Pearson said: "Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of its 50 per cent share in the group. There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction."
The FT reports this morning that the Italian Agnelli family, which controls Fiat among other interests, is expected to secure a deal to increase its stake in The Economist as early as next month through its investment vehicle Exor, which currently owns 4.7 per cent of the magazine.
According to the FT, other potential buyers include the three families that control most of the remaining 50 per cent in The Economist that Pearson does not own: the Schroders, the Cadburys and the Rothschilds.
The FT reports that Pearson’s 50 per cent stake in The Economist would be worth around £400m, valuing the publication close to that of the FT Group, which is set to be sold to Japanese media group Nikkei for £844m. However, the Economist Group’s operating profits are more than double, it pointed out.