The Times’ Dan Sabbagh looks at the performance of educational publisher Pearson (parent company of Penguin) and its CEO, Dame Marjorie Scardino, over the last ten years, and wonders if it’s “unreasonable to ask whether it is time for Dame Marjorie to adopt a different strategy.” Especially because even though the focus on publishing has been good from a long-term growth standpoint, “unfortunately, so exciting is the education business that journalists fail utterly to pay any attention to it,” concludes Sabbagh. Ungrateful scribblers prefer instead to concentrate on the rest of the shooting match, which, after ten years’ hard work, looks hardly developed by comparison. Penguin and the businesses clumped around the Financial Times contribute a measly 33 per cent of profits, and the newspaper, which produced Â£80 million at the top of the last cycle, might manage 20 million pounds this year.
Which makes talk of unloading Penguin all the stronger for Sabbagh. “Penguin might be better off in a union with Bloomsbury or merged into a consumer-orientated media group that would not mind a stable earnings stream to offset the vicissitudes of advertising.”