Pearson talks on Prisa unit stake

Pearson, the educational publisher, has held preliminary talks with Prisa, the Spanish media group, over the possible purchase of a stake in Santillana, Prisa*s publishing house and a market leader in school textbooks in Spanish-speaking Latin America.

It is understood that Prisa could be looking to sell up to 30 per cent of the business in a deal that could fetch up to 360m ($512m). Pearson, owner of the Financial Times, declined to comment. The talks are at a very early stage as Prisa tests the waters for market appetite.

Other likely bidders for Santillana, well-known for its English language teaching books, could include Cengage Learning, the educational publisher owned by Apax, Oxford University Press and Infinitas Learning, formerly the education division of Wolters Kluwer now backed by Bridgepoint.

Owning a stake in Santillana would fit with Pearson*s expansion into educational publishing outside the US, where the group is twice the size of any of its competitors.

Pearson tapped the bond markets in March and raised ?300m ($494m) giving it more muscle to make acquisitions, especially in an environment where many of its competitors are cash-strapped.

[Source: By Salamander Davoudi, London and Mark Mulligan, Madrid, Financial Times, London, 01Jun09]

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