Pearson Group in talks to bring 125 jobs to Belfast

The Pearson Group headquarters in London

BLUE chip company Pearson Group, which last year sold the Financial Times for almost £900 million, is in talks to create up to 125 jobs in Belfast.

It is understood the publicly listed company wants to establish a back office in the city centre.

The London-headquartered business last year restructured to move from being one of the world's best known media and publishing companies to concentrate solely on education services.

It would be the group's first major operation in Northern Ireland if given the go ahead.

It is understood the offices would represent a multi-million pound investment by the group in a move that would be eligible for backing with public money.

Although initially considering offices for around 75 to 125 staff, it is believed Pearson would have a view to growing that number to as many as 400 in coming years.

Pearson last lyear sold the FT Group to Japanese media firm Nikkei for £844 million 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.

Its chief executive John Fallon last year said the businesses were sold to aid what he said was "going to be one of the great global growth stories of the next decade".

"Parents in countries around the world, rich and poor, the single thing that matters to them most is equipping their kids with the skills and the knowledge to go to university, to learn English as a foreign language, because that's what's going to get them a better job and a better start in life and that's what we're lining Pearson up to and it's a huge opportunity for us," he said.

Pearson has however retained 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.

Neither the Pearson Group nor Invest NI would comment when contacted yesterday.

Meanwhile, it is understood, that a major acquisition deal involving two leading Northern Ireland publishing firms is due to be completed this month.

It is understood the deal will see a merger of a number of popular local titles.

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