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Pearson sells Mergermarket for 382 million pounds to BC Partners-Reuters

(Reuters) – British media and education group Pearson said on Friday it had sold its M&A-focused Mergermarket news service for 382 million pounds ($624 million) to funds advised by private equity group BC Partners.

The British group, which put the news service on the block in July, said Mergermarket no longer fitted its strategy of growing its education division. It has said however that it intends to hang on to the Financial Times newspaper, which it believes has a better fit with the overall group.

“Mergermarket is a world class financial information business, with a highly professional and talented team, and we wish them every future success,” Pearson’s Chief Executive John Fallon said. “The company has flourished under Pearson’s ownership but it is not part of Pearson’s strategy in global education.”

Mergermarket reported revenues of 100 million pounds and operating income of 25 million pounds in 2012. Banking sources had told Reuters that the business could fetch a price of 300 million pounds.

Pearson said it would use the proceeds from the sale to invest in its global education business.

Fallon is reorganizing Pearson to focus on fast-growing economies and digital services, rather than Europe and North America, where austerity measures are hitting public spending.

The strategy has increased speculation that the Financial Times will eventually be sold, and bankers have been looking for ways to persuade the company to do a deal, saying that selling the group in parts would maximize value.