The move comes within weeks of its decision to sell the Financial Times to Nikkei and ends Pearson’s role as a news publisher, as it focuses its business on its global education strategy.
Exor Spa, the Italian investment company owned by the Agnelli family, has paid US$354 million for 27.8 per cent of The Economist Group’s ordinary shares and all of its B special shares for $93 million.
At present Exor owns a 4.7 per cent holding in the Economist Group. John Elkann, Exor’s chief executive, joined the Economist Group board in 2009.
The Economist Group itself will buy Pearson’s remaining ordinary shares for $283 million, Pearson said today in a statement.
As well as The Economist, the 172-year-old global business and current affairs magazine, The Economist Group owns The Economist Intelligence Unit, CQ Roll Call and TVC, the PR and digital marketing agency.
The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015. It is subject to regulatory approvals and the agreement of both 75 per cent majority of The Economist Group shareholders and the group’s independent trustees.
John Fallon, the chief executive of Pearson, said: "Pearson is proud to have been a part of The Economist's success over the past 58 years, and our shareholders have benefited greatly from its growth.
"We have enjoyed supporting the company as it has built a global business, sustaining the excellence of its journalism and ensuring it is read more widely. We wish all our colleagues at The Economistevery future success.
"Pearson is now 100 per cent focused on our global education strategy. The world of education is changing rapidly and we see great opportunity to grow our business through increasing access to high quality learning globally."