Italy's billionaire Agnelli family has become the largest investor in the 172-year-old publication, The Economist, after Pearson sold its 50 per cent stake for 469 million pounds. Kirsty Basset reports.
Weekly publication The Economist has a new majority owner. Italy's billionaire Agnelli family has become its largest investor, now owning 43.4 per cent of the group through its holding company Exor, after Britain's Pearson agreed to sell its 50 per cent stake for 469 million pounds. Existing shareholders such as The Economist itself, and the Rothschild family also increased their stakes. IG Analyst Chris Beauchamp. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) IG SENIOR MARKET ANALYST CHRIS BEAUCHAMP SAYING: "It does seem to be really a fairly good deal in terms of valuations. I think The Economist is one of those global publications that carries such brand recognition that actually you could argue they could have got a shade more for it." In a statement, CEO of Exor, John Elkann said he saw huge potential ahead for the Economist as the media industry continues to go digital. It follows Pearson's sale of The Financial Times last month to Japanese media group Nikkei for $1.3 billion. Analysts now expect Pearson to focus on its education businesses. (SOUNDBITE)(ENGLISH) IG SENIOR MARKET ANALYST CHRIS BEAUCHAMP SAYING: "I think the assumption is they're going to use the funds they've acquired to really push that growth forward, make inroads into emerging markets where universities still have a lot of growth ahead of them." The Economist had a paid circulation of 1.6 million at the end of 2014. In the same year, the publication contributed 21 million pounds to Pearson's operating income.