Apollo drops takeover offer for education group Pearson

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March 30 (Reuters) - Education group Pearson (PSON.L) said on Wednesday it had rejected a third takeover offer from Apollo, valuing it at 6.7 billion pounds ($8.8 billion), prompting the U.S. investment company to walk away and sending its shares down 12%.

Pearson revealed earlier this month that it had rejected two takeover approaches from Apollo, sending its shares up 22% on the day. read more

The second proposal valued each Pearson share at 854.2 pence while the third offer came in at 884.2 pence. Pearson shares were trading at 697 pence at 0950 GMT on Wednesday.

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"The board of Pearson considered the third proposal, together with its financial and legal advisers, and concluded that it significantly undervalued the company and its future prospects," it said in a statement.

"Accordingly, the board of Pearson unanimously rejected the third proposal."

Pearson's decision to dismiss a takeover, after it spent seven years navigating the difficult switch from traditional learning to online, will put even more focus on boss Andy Bird, and whether his new strategy can work.

Bird has lately sharpened Pearson's focus to sell directly to consumers and not just schools, colleges or shops, while also expanding into the workforce training sector with recent acquisitions.

The company recently set medium-term targets for the first time in six years, believing it has turned the corner after changes in the industry hit its once thriving U.S. higher education courseware business, leading to a string of profit warnings. ($1 = 0.7605 pounds)

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Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Kate Holton in London; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, William James and Keith Weir

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