Pearson buys US online education company for $650M
LONDON - Britain's Pearson has bought U.S. educational services company EmbanetCompass for $650 million in cash to bolster its position in the fast-growing online learning market.
Pearson, which also publishes Penguin books and the Financial Times, has been building up its education businesses through acquisitions.
Will Ethridge, chief executive of Pearson North America, said that buying EmbanetCompass, from an investor group led by Technology Crossover Ventures and Knowledge Universe, increased Pearson's presence in online education and educational services, two areas where it saw opportunities for growth.
EmbanetCompass, which was founded in 1995 and is expected to have revenues of about $130 million this year, provides online products for more than 100 university programmes, including course design, student recruitment and technology support, Pearson said on Tuesday.
Jefferies analyst David Reynolds said it would be hard to describe a better strategic fit for Pearson, but the company was paying a full price.
"On the one hand it looks like a great deal," he said. "But it's difficult to escape the observation that it is paying $650 million for a company that's doing $130 million of revenue in 2012. That strikes me as being expensive."
The transformation of Pearson into an education-led company has been driven by chief executive Marjorie Scardino, who is stepping down at the end of the year. She will be replaced by John Fallon, head of the international education division.
The deal is Pearson's largest in education since it bought Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International from Reed Elsevier for a total of $950 million in 2007.
Shares in Pearson closed 0.7 percent higher at 12.38 British pounds, valuing the group at about 10.1 billion pounds ($16.26 billion). — Reuters
Talk of the web