Publisher Pearson appoints new chairman to lead emerging market strategy
Pearson, the British publisher that sold the Financial Times for £844m earlier this summer, has appointed a new chairman as it steps up plans to focus on digital services and emerging markets.
Sidney Taurel, the former boss of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, will join Pearson in January, and replaces Glen Moreno, who had been in the role for more than a decade.
Pearson has issued a string of profit warnings in the past couple of years, and the FTSE 100 company’s latest update last week caused its share price to tumble by as much as 16pc in the biggest single-day fall since the 1980s.
Pearson said sales fell by 2pc in the third quarter of the year and downgraded its expectations for full-year trading, blaming “cyclical and policy factors beyond its control”.
The bearish update squashed hopes that the sale of the FT to Japanese media group Nikkei, as well as offloading its 50pc stake in The Economist for £469m, would mark a turning point in the company’s fortunes.
A slew of brokers downgraded Pearson, with analysts at Barclays expressing concern about the company’s lack of visibility when forecasting future trading.
Pearson is withdrawing from its publishing operations to focus on its core education business, 60pc of which is in the US.
However, its US division has delivered mixed results in recent months. The University of Florida recently announced plans to terminate an 11-year contract with Pearson, saying it had failed to meet certain performance goals.
Mr Taurel, 66, is expected to bring experience of dealing in global business markets and tackling complex regulatory environments.
The Moroccon-born businessman became a US citizen 20 years ago, and was a former adviser to George W Bush for much of last decade. This was alongside his role as chief executive and chairman of Eli Lilly.
During his time at the pharmaceutical company, he worked in South America, eastern Europe and the UK, and he is fluent in French, Spanish and Portuguese
“I am looking forward to helping the Pearson management team develop our strategy and deliver long-term value for our students, customers and our shareholders,” said Mr Taurel.