Britain’s Pearson is in talks to sell its 50 percent stake in The Economist to the other shareholders of the weekly newspaper, Reuters reported.
Italy’s Agnelli family, one of the shareholders, has confirmed it wants to increase its stake.
The move comes on the heels of Pearson’s sale of the Financial Times newspaper to Japanese media group Nikkei. Pearson wants to focus on its education business.
“Pearson confirms it is in discussions with The Economist Group Board and trustees regarding the potential sale of our 50 percent share in the group,” the company said in a statement.
“There is no certainty that this process will lead to a transaction.”
Pearson did not name the potential buyers.
Reuters quoted sources as saying that the group of families and staff and former staff that own the remaining 50 percent are talking to Pearson but need to raise cash to fund the deal.
Italian holding company Exor, the investment company of the Agnelli family and a major shareholder in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said it was in talks about raising its stake, which stands at 4.72 percent, according to its website.
Any increased investment in The Economist Group would represent a minority shareholding and there was no certainty a deal would be concluded, it said in a statement.
The owners of The Economist include other European dynasties such as the Cadbury, Rothschild and Schroder families.
The co-owners of the weekly publication, which had a paid circulation of 1.6 million at the end of 2014 and reported 67 million pounds (US$103.85 million) in annual operating profit in June, have greater voting rights than Pearson, which holds only B shares.
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