LONDON -- It is always sad when a successful executive decides to call it a day, and the departure of Dame Marjorie Morris Scardino from Pearson (LSE: PSON.L ) is no exception.
Under Dame Marjorie, Pearson was transformed from a sprawling business that had its finger in investment banking, tourism, and television to one that is focused on publishing and education through brands that include the Financial Times, the Economist and Penguin books. In the 15 years that Dame Marjorie has been in charge, sales have tripled to nearly 6 billion pounds and profits have grown more than threefold.
Pearson's chairman, Glen Moreno, said:
Under Marjorie's leadership, Pearson has fundamentally shifted its business portfolio towards all kinds of learning, its geographic exposure towards fast-growing economies and its product mix towards digital and services. It has been a radical and highly successful transformation. I know that many of Pearson's shareholders, customers and people will join me today in applauding her enormous contribution to the company.
Dame Marjorie will be succeeded by John Fallon, who has been chief executive of Pearson's International Education division since 2008. Before that, he was chief executive for Europe, Middle East, and Africa since 2003.
The company said: "John is an experienced and effective leader who has planned and led the tremendous growth of our international education business over the past decade. He is an outstanding executive to build on Marjorie's many achievements."
Indeed, Dame Marjorie will be a tough act for Fallon to follow, which may explain the slight dip in the shares in early morning trading. Over the 15 years that Dame Marjorie has been in charge, shareholders have been rewarded with a total return of over 200%. In other words, it has delivered an average return of around 7% a year over 15 years.
The outstanding performance of Pearson underlines how exciting shares can become wonderful investments for ordinary investors.
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