Pearson sells Recoletos stake

Management buys Spanish media group

MADRID — U.K. publishing group Pearson announced Tuesday that it had sold its 79% stake in Spanish media group Recoletos for Euros743 ($988 million).

The buyer, Retos Cartera, is an investment company comprising Recoletos management execs and Spanish bank Banesto, which will buy up all of Recoletos’ share capital for $1.25 billion.

One of Spain’s biggest publishing congloms, Recoletos also owns financial niche TV outfit Expansion TV and start-up Digital Terrestial Television operator Veo TV.

Retos paid $9.6 per share, repping a 19% premium on Monday’s closing trading price, and generating a net profit for Pearson which is expected to be around $269 million.

Recoletos had some $260 million sitting on its books from the sale of its stake in leading Spanish daily El Mundo to Italian media group RCS. It has now found some good use for the money.

The publisher of the Financial Times, Pearson’s key interest in Recoletos has been its financial daily newspaper Expansion. But Expansion now accounts for only some 10% of Recoletos’ sales as the Spanish media group has diversified into sports (the hugely successful soccer daily Marca) and lifestyle (Telva) publishing, and TV.

The deal will give Recoletos full independence to ramp up its DTT presence, once the market finally takes off in Spain. Veo TV currently has a DTT license but no viewers: DTT TV sets have yet to hit Spain’s commercial market.

“Now that its (Recoletos’) strategy — in sport, lifestyle and general publications – is taking it further away from the FT Group’s focus on business and financial news and information, it is time for us to part company,” Pearson chief exec Marjorie Scardino is quoted as saying in the Financial Times.

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