Pearson’s biggest shareholder has said it should be relisted in the US, arguing that leaving London would be better for shareholders as most of the education publisher’s business and rivals are based in North America.
The founder of Cevian Capital, Europe’s largest activist investor, said that joining the increasing number of London-listed companies moving out of the FTSE would be an “easy and effortless way” to increase the value of Pearson after its market value flatlined this year.
The publisher has sold off its high-profile European properties in recent years, disposing of stakes in the Economist and Penguin Random House, and selling the Financial Times newspaper to the Japanese group Nikkei to refocus its business on the education sector.
“Pearson is a US company with the majority of sales and executives there,” said Christer Gardell, the managing partner of the Stockholm-based investor, in an interview with Bloomberg. “It is only due to historical reasons it is still listed in the UK.”
Pearson makes almost two-thirds of its £3.8bn annual revenues in North America.
Cevian previously helped pressure the building materials group CRH, one of the biggest companies on the FTSE 100, to move its primary listing to the US, after the UK-based plumbing equipment supplier Ferguson did the same last year.
Earlier this month, the betting company Flutter, formerly known as Paddy Power Betfair, said it was pursuing a secondary listing in the US but would keep its premium listing in London.
However, the company has said it may “pursue a primary listing in the US in due course”.
Also in March, the Cambridge-based chip designer Arm, one of the UK’s few bona fide global tech success stories, snubbed London in favour of floating on the Nasdaq in New York, in one of the biggest initial public offerings in recent years.
Cevian is Pearson’s largest shareholder with a stake of more than 12%.
Gardell said he expected the Pearson board to “look into this in a serious manner and to prioritise the issue”.
Pearson declined to comment.