a media industry resource

Pearson: Landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • antecedents (1724)
  • beginnings (1893)
  • diversification out of engineering (1919)
  • absorbs FT and Penguin (1957)
  • churn (1991)
  • concentration (1998)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1724 Longman publishing founded

1725 Thomas Longman publishes first book typeset by Benjamin Franklin

1844 S Pearson founds civil engineering business

1856 Pearson provides railway construction services in UK

1863 Pearson provides canal and railway construction services in Egypt, Canada and Mexico

1865 Frederick Warne leaves Routledge, forms Frederick Warne & Co

1889 S. Pearson & Son building Hudson tunnel in New York; railways in Spain, Mexico, Colombia and China; dams and canals in Mexico and docks in Egypt and Canada

1889 Scott Foresman publishing founded


1893 Westminster Gazette launched (merged with Daily News in 1928)

1901 launch of Daily Express

1901 Pearson enters Mexican oil business, establishes Mexican Eagle oil extraction, refining and shipping operation

1903 Joseph Rowntree Social Service Trust buys three County Durham newspapers, later forms Westminster Press

1913 Prentice Hall publishing founded

1919 William Berry acquires Financial Times and St Clements Press


1919 Pearson establishes Whitehall Trust corporate finance and investment house

1920 Pearson buys Westminister Press and other UK provincial newspapers such as the Brighton Evening Argus and The Oxford Mail

1938 Pearson's Mexican Eagle nationalised

1942 Addison-Wesley founded

1947 Longman becomes public company

1946 Penguin Australia founded

1952 Pearson invests in British Overseas Airways

Absorbs FT and Penguin

1957 gains control of Financial Times (FT)

1959 South African Financial Mail launched by South African Associated Newspapers (SAAN) (40%) and UK Financial Times (50%)

1959 Pearson stake in Acton Bolt Ltd sold to GKN

1959 stake in Saunders-Roe sold to Westland Aircraft Company

1960 Athens Piraeus Electricity Company interests sold

1961 Penguin Books goes public

1963 Pearson takes controlling stake in Chateau Latour winery

1963 Beytout family buys Les Echos group from Servan-Schreiber family

1968 Pearson gains control of Longman publishers

1969 Pearson goes public

1970 Addison-Wesley buys US science publisher W.A. Benjamin

1971 Pearson gains control of Penguin books

1972 Pearson merges Royal Doulton ceramics group with Allied English Potteries

1973 Prentice Hall buys Appleton-Century-Crofts

1974 SAAN buys Financial Times stake for R180,000

1975 Viking merges with Penguin

1977 Addison-Wesley and Cummings merge

1978 Pearson buys waxworks and theme park operator Madame Tussauds

1979 buys controlling interest in Camco Inc

1980 buys high technology businesses of Fairey Industries Ltd

1982 sells Doulton Glass Industries

1983 Penguin buys Frederick Warne & Co for £6.1m

1985 Scott Foresman bought by Time

1985 Penguin buys Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Sphere Books, Rainbird Publishing Group and TBD Book Service from Thomson

1986 Pearson takes stake in British Satellite Broadcasting (BSBH) with Granada and Seydoux-controlled Chargeurs

1986 sells engineering interests (inc Fairey operations)

1987 Murdoch pays £250m for 14.9% stake in Pearson (subsequently sold)

1988 Pearson buys Addison-Wesley

1988 buys 35% stake in Recoletos

1988 buys 67% of Les Echos group

1989 sells Whitehall Petroleum

1989 buys remainder of Les Echos

1990 Addison-Wesley buys Cuisenaire Company

1990 BSkyB formed through merger of Murdoch's Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting (in which Pearson, Seydoux-controlled Chargeurs and Granada had stakes)


1991 Pearson sells 22% Elsevier stake for £313m; Elsevier sells 8% stake in Pearson

1992 buys Ventura

1993 Pearson buys UK Thames Television

1993 buys Extel Financial for £73.5m

1993 Pearson spins off Royal Doulton into a separate company

1993 establishes UK News as joint venture with DMG subsidiary Northcliffe newspapers

1994 buys Mindscape for £313m

1994 Simon & Schuster buy US Macmillan Publishing after Maxwell collapse

1994 BSkyB floated with value of £4.5bn

1995 Addison-Wesley merges with Longman Publishing to create Addison Wesley Longman

1995 Economist buys Journal of Commerce and subsidiaries from Knight Ridder for US$115m

1995 Pearson buys Grundy Worldwide

1995 sells 14.8% stake in Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television to MAI for £41.2m

1995 buys Troll Communications, sold in 1997

1996 Pearson sells Westminster Press to Newsquest (later acquired by Gannett) for £305m

1996 sells stake in First Oxfordshire Radio

1996 sells Kentish Mercury newspaper chain to Trinity

1996 sells 50% stake in UK News

1996 Pearson buys Putnam Berkley publishing group from Seagram for US$350m and HarperCollins US education interests from News for US$580m

1996 Penguin takes 51% stake in Rough Guides

1997 sells Churchill Livingstone medical books for US$92m

1997 Pearson buys US producer All American Communications

1997 buys stake in UK commercial TV broadcaster Channel 5

1997 buys Resource Data International for US$25m

1997 buys Putnam Berkley for US$336m

1997 buys 50% of BDFM (Business Day, Financial Mail and African Business Channel) from TML

1998 Pearson buys Viacom's Simon & Schuster education, business & professional and reference divisions for £2.9bn

1998 Pearson buys illustrated book publisher Dorling Kindersley for US$466m


1998 Pearson sells M Tussaud's for $528m

1998 Pearson sells Mindscape games arm for US$138m after US$405m loss

1998 sells Macmillan General Reference USA to IDG for £52m

1998 sells Macmillan Library Reference USA to Thomson for £53m

1998 sells Westminster Press to Newsquest Media Group (later acquired by Gannett) for £298m

1998 sells Capitol Publishing to Kluwer for US$20m

1998 Pearson sells stake in Lazard banking houses for £436m

1998 sells Register Group to EMAP for £9m

1999 Pearson sells medical publisher Appleton & Lange to McGraw-Hill for US$46m

1999 Pearson sells law and tax publishing operations to Thomson for £70m and Master Data Center to Information Holdings for US$33m

1999 Pearson buys E Source for £11m

1999 Pearson sells Jossey-Bass to John Wiley for US$82m

1999 sells Extel's research products division and the Extel name to Primark of the US for £94m

2000 Pearson merges Pearson TV production holdings with Bertelsmann-controlled RTL Group

2000 sells 50% holding in AFX News to Agence France Presse

2000 launches Financial Times Deutschland with Gruner & Jahr

2000 stake in Recoletos reduced to 79% when Recoletos lists on Madrid exchange

2000 Pearson sells stake in Murdoch-controlled UK statellite broadcaster BSkyB to Vivendi for around £305m

2000 forms Pearson Broadband (programming)

2000 Pearson buys US National Computer Systems educational services group for £1.7bn

2001 sells 22% stake in RTL to Bertelsmann

2003 buys S&P ComStock real-time information service from McGraw-Hill for US$115m

2003 Financial Times Asian edition launched

2003 FT buys 13.85% of Indian Business Standard (2nd largest financial paper) for US$3m

2003 Penguin Television (programming) founded

2004 spanish telecoms operator Telefonica sells its 5% stake in Pearson for £236m

2004 Pearson announces agreement to sell stake in Recoletos

2005 Recoletos launches free metro Que! in 12 Spanish cities

2006 Pearson buys US professional examination agency Promissor for US$42m from Houghton Mifflin

2006 pays £101m for online corporate finance news service Mergermarket (founded 2000)

2006 sells call centre and application processr Pearson Government Solutions (PGS) to Veritas private equity group for US$600m