Pearson to double internet investment

- The UK media group Pearson, which owns the Financial Times and Penguin books, has announced it is to double its investment in the internet this year to £120 million.

- The UK media group Pearson, which owns the Financial Times and Penguin books, has announced it is to double its investment in the internet this year to £120 million.

The announcement was made by Majorie Scardino, Pearson's American chief executive, who said that the internet was now an integral part of all group operations.

Scardino admitted Pearson was looking at ways to create a separately listed business for its online activities. But she admitted this would be difficult because most of its internet divisions were interwoven with its traditional media businesses.

Its main online property, FT.com, is one of the most successful sites on the web and expects to earn advertising revenues of £6 million this year, up £2 million on last year.

It is expected that FT.com will be relaunched as a broader business portal later this year as part of a bid to raise its profile in the US.

The announcement of the investment came as Pearson reported a 15 per cent rise in half-year operating profits to £126 million, and a 32 per cent rise in sales to £1.3 billion.

In pre-tax terms, Pearson incurred a £17 million loss, mainly thanks to its recent £2.9 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster's educational publishing division.

Pearson declined to comment on speculation that it is in talks with United News & Media about its television interests, which include a 24 per cent stake in Channel 5.



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