Pearson Group due to start up in Belfast in spring
PUBLISHING and education giant Pearson Group could set up in Belfast as early as April, it can be revealed.
The publicly-listed company, which last year sold the Financial Times for almost £900 million, is in talks to set up its first major office in the city in the spring.
It is understood the company will share office space with business advisers EY while senior managers seek a permanent home that can accommodate its long term goal of up to 600 staff.
The firm is believed to initially plan a much smaller operation growing to 125 jobs over the medium term.
It is understood the expansion to Northern Ireland would be eligible to receive a high-level of public funding.
EY is based at Bedford House on Bedford Street.
The Pearson Group's plans will be reliant on finding the right office space within Belfast.
The city has suffered a well-publicised dearth of Grade A office accommodation in recent years but some schemes are in planning.
Belfast Harbour last year completed the top grade City Quays 1 development and work has started on its sister building City Quays 2
Last year, Invest NI announced a scheme to incentivise developers to build top class offices in Belfast.
It said it would consider providing mezzanine or equity finance as a short-term intervention.
The Pearson Group, headquartered in London restructured last year to move from being one of the world's best known media and publishing companies to concentrate solely on education services.
Pearson last year sold the FT Group to Japanese media firm Nikkei for £844m and offloaded its 50 per cent stake in the Economist Group for £469m.
It is understood the group wants to use some of that money to invest in a bid to cement its position as the world's leading education company.
Pearson also a 47 per cent stake in book publisher Penguin Random House.
The company offers a range of school exams including BTEC and Edexel.
It also provides online and print educational resources for schools, universities and professionals across the globe.
The firm was founded in the 19th century as a building contractors and grew to be one of the largest companies in the world in that field.
A spokeswoman for EY said they could not comment.