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Business Review - Group Financial Review

Operating result

On a headline basis, adjusted sales increased by £167m or 4% from £4,051m to £4,218m and total adjusted operating profit increased by £42m or 7% to £634m in 2007 from £592m in 2006.

Adjusted sales include discontinued operations held throughout the current and previous year. In 2007 the sales by our Data Management business have been included in adjusted sales. Adjusted operating profit excludes amortisation and adjustment of acquired intangibles but also includes the adjusted profits from discontinued operations.

Statutory operating profit from continuing operations increased by £52m or 10%, to £574m in 2007 from £522m in 2006. The statutory operating profit includes the effect of increased intangible amortisation but does not reflect the decreased contribution from discontinued operations.

Net finance costs

£millions 2007 2006
Net interest payable (95) (94)
Finance income in respect of employee benefits 10 4
Net finance costs refelected in adjusted earnings (85) (94)
Net foreign exchange (losses)/gains (17) 19
Other (losses) (4) (3)
Net finance costs (106) (74)

Net finance costs reported in our adjusted earnings comprise net interest payable and net finance income relating to post-retirement plans. Net interest payable in 2007 was £95m, up from £94m in 2006. Although we were partly protected by our fixed rate policy, a rise in average US dollar floating interest rates had an adverse effect. Year on year, average three month LIBOR (weighted for the Group's borrowings in US dollars, euros and sterling at each year end) rose by 0.5% to 5.4%, reflecting a rise in interest rates and a change in the currency mix of year end debt. These two factors, together with a decrease in the Group's average net debt of £90m, increased the Group's average net interest rate payable by 0.3% to 7.3%. The net finance income relating to post-retirement plans rose by £6m in 2007 resulting in an overall net finance cost reflected in adjusted earnings of £85m.

We expect our interest charge in 2008 to be similar to that in 2007 with the higher level of net debt following the completion of the Harcourt transaction offset by strong cash generation and the recent proceeds from the disposals of Les Echos and Data Management. We expect our pension credit will remain at a similar level to 2007, despite an upward revision of life expectancy assumptions.

Also included in the statutory definition of net finance costs are foreign exchange and other gains and losses. These are excluded from adjusted earnings as they represent short-term fluctuations in market value and are subject to significant volatility. Other gains and losses may not be realised in due course as it is normally the intention to hold the related instruments to maturity. Net foreign exchange losses of £17m in 2007 mainly relate to exchange losses on legacy euro denominated debt held to hedge the receipt of euro proceeds from the sale of Les Echos. A corresponding gain is included in the higher proceeds realised on this sale. In 2006 euro borrowings and cross currency swaps that were not designated as net investment hedges contributed to the overall foreign exchange gains.


In 2007 we revised our calculation of the effective tax rate on adjusted earnings to reflect the benefit of tax deductions attributable to amortisation of acquired goodwill and intangibles as this more accurately aligns the adjusted tax charge with the expected medium-term rate of cash tax payment. We have restated the 2006 comparative figure.

On this basis the effective tax rate on adjusted earnings was 26.4% in 2007 compared with 25.9% in 2006. Our overseas profits, which arise mainly in the US, remain mostly subject to tax rates which are higher than the UK corporation tax rate (which was 30% in 2007 but will fall to 28% from 1 April 2008). This factor was offset by the amortisation-related tax deductions and, as in 2006, by releases from provisions reflecting continued progress in agreeing our tax affairs with the authorities.

For 2008 we expect our effective tax rate on adjusted earnings to be in the 27% to 29% range.

The reported tax charge on a statutory basis was £131m, representing a rate of 28.0%. As we explained last year, the 2006 rate was abnormally low because of one-off adjustments related to the recognition of deferred tax assets for both capital losses and operating losses. The tax effects of the disposals during 2007, mainly Government Solutions (tax £93m) and Les Echos (tax £nil), are reflected in discontinued operations.

Tax paid in 2007 was £87m, compared with £59m in 2006. The 2007 amount included £26m paid in respect of disposals.

Discontinued operations

Discontinued operations relate to the disposal of Government Solutions (in February 2007), Les Echos (in December 2007) and the Data Management business (in February 2008). In total, we received cash proceeds of £469m for disposals in 2007.

As previously announced, we realised a loss before tax of £19m and a tax charge of £93m on the sale of Government Solutions. We realised a profit before tax of £165m with no tax payable on the sale of Les Echos. In anticipation of a loss on sale of the Data Management business, a goodwill impairment of £97m has been charged to the income statement in 2007. We received cash proceeds of $225m on the sale of Data Management on 22 February 2008.

Minority interests

Our minority interests comprise mainly the minority share in Interactive Data. Our stake in Interactive Data remained at 62% throughout 2007, leaving the minority interest unchanged at 38%.


The dividend accounted for in our 2007 financial statements totalling £238m, represents the final dividend (18.8p) in respect of 2006 and the 2007 interim dividend of 11.1p.

We are proposing a final dividend for 2007 of 20.5p, bringing the total paid and payable in respect of 2007 to 31.6p, a 7.8% increase on 2006. This final 2007 proposed dividend was approved by the board in February 2008, is subject to shareholder approval at the forthcoming AGM and will be charged against 2008 profits. For 2007, the dividend is covered 1.5 times by adjusted earnings.

We seek to maintain a balance between the requirements of our shareholders for a rising stream of dividend income and the reinvestment opportunities which we identify around the Group.

The board expects to raise the dividend more in line with earnings growth, while building our dividend cover towards two times earnings.


Pearson operates a variety of pension plans. Our UK Group plan is by far the largest and includes a significant defined benefit section. We also have some smaller defined benefit plans in the US and Canada. Outside the UK, most of our companies operate defined contribution plans.

The income statement expense for defined benefit plans is determined using annually derived assumptions as to salary inflation, investment returns and discount rates, based on prevailing conditions at the start of the year. The assumptions for 2007 are disclosed in note 24 to our accounts, along with the year end surpluses and deficits in our defined benefit plans. We recognise actuarial gains and losses arising when assumptions diverge from reality through the statement of recognised income and expense (SORIE).

Our charge to profit in respect of worldwide pensions and post retirement benefits amounted to £61m in 2007 (2006: £60m) of which a charge of £71m (2006: £64m) was reported in operating profit and the net finance benefit of £10m (2006: £4m) was reported against net finance costs.

Pension funding levels are kept under regular review by the company and the plan Trustee. Following the completion of the latest actuarial valuation of the UK Group pension plan as at January 2006, we made additional payments to the plan in 2007 amounting to £100m. These additional payments have contributed to the overall surplus recognised in the UK plan.

Corporate responsibility

Alongside our commitment to our financial goals, Pearson has a clear social purpose: to provide education, information and entertainment and help our customers get on in their lives. Our Corporate Responsibility programme addresses four main areas:

  • Society - making communities better places to live and work;
  • Our People - the issues that affect the people who work for us;
  • Environment - our environmental impacts and what we do to manage them;
  • Governance - our business procedures, code of conduct and supply chain management.

Pearson is a founder member signatory of the UN Global Compact on labour standards, human rights, the environment and anti-corruption. We are also long-standing members of the Dow Jones Sustainability and FTSE4Good ethical indices. In 2007 Pearson was named media sector leader in the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. Our ranking in the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index again rose and we were awarded the highest, 'platinum' status.

We publish a detailed annual report on corporate responsibility providing details of our progress and plans in all these areas, which is available at


Each one of our businesses pays great attention to the quality and accuracy of its content and services; in education, for example, we are investing in a series of long-term studies to measure the robustness of our programmes in enhancing student achievement.

Beyond those basic products and services, Pearson has a proud history of corporate giving and supporting projects in our communities. Through the Pearson Foundation - and also through the efforts of our businesses and employees - we focus our charitable giving on education and literacy projects around the world.


The following table shows for 2007 and 2006 the average number of people employed in each of our operating divisions

Average number employed 2007 2006
School 12,906 11,064
Higher Education 5,098 4,368
Professional 3,458 3,204
Penguin 4,163 3,943
FT Publishing 2,083 1,766
Interactive Data 2,300 2,200
Other 1,614 1,669
Continuing operations 31,622 28,214
Discontinued operations 1,070 6,127
Total 32,692 34,341

Our people are our biggest - and most important - asset. We want to be the best company to work for. We want the people who work with us to enjoy what they do, to know they are good enough to work anywhere, but to stay with us because they think we are the best.

We have a way still to go, but each year we have got closer to making this a reality. We think our benefits, incentive plans and training and management development programmes are as good as anywhere else and they all help to reinforce a strong culture which is anchored in the simple idea that as a company we want to be brave, imaginative and decent in the way we treat our customers, our suppliers and ourselves.

Training and development Last year 220 senior managers went on Pearson-run management development and training programmes. 650 of our senior managers have now been on one or more of these programmes which cover finance, strategic planning and advanced management techniques which are taught by business school professors from both sides of the Atlantic. Each of our operating companies also run extensive training programmes of their own.

Talent management Our goal is to make absolutely sure that we have a strong pipeline of talented people for the future and we have introduced personal development plans for many of our senior management. But we take care to identify and develop talent at all levels within the company and review this talent regularly with each operating company. We are committed to ensuring that everyone in the company has an annual appraisal. Each operating company also reviews its talent annually and the results of this process are reviewed by the CEO of Pearson, the Director for people and the CEO of each company. We focus on performance and potential. Each autumn the Pearson board has a special session devoted solely to reviewing senior talent and some of our most promising people in the company. This ensures that we have a comprehensive succession plan for each part of our business.

International development As we become more and more international - we are now at work in 60 countries - we have significantly expanded New Directions our programme of short term overseas assignments. In the first year of this centrally-managed programme, we moved 67 people between companies and countries and in 2008 our target is to move at least 100. In 2008, we will also launch a Senior International Leadership Programme which will help prepare senior executives to work overseas on two- to three-year assignments as part of their management development.

People for the future Pearson has a lot of talented people at all levels and we continue to run very successful programmes to identify and develop great talent deep within the company. The cornerstone of this is our annual Forum which brings together about 100 of our newest and brightest managers from all over the world for a three-day session with the Pearson Management Committee and other senior managers. Similar forums are held within our operating companies and we also bring together our talent in functions like marketing, human resources and finance.

Diversity Our goal is to be a company that reflects the societies in which we operate and we seek to attract the very best candidates at all levels regardless of race, gender, age, physical ability, religion or sexual orientation. We don't set specific targets, but we do work very hard to make sure that the pool of applicants for jobs is diverse. We have made progress on several fronts in the past year, but there is still a great deal to do. We have increased the number of people we hire from minorities in the US and the UK, expanded our minority intern programmes on both sides of the Atlantic and added new titles to our African-American and Hispanic publishing lists. But we do not have enough executives at middle and senior management levels from minority backgrounds and we continue to work hard to correct this.

Health and safety A Group level health and safety policy is in place and there are many examples of good practice relating to management initiatives and employee engagement, particularly in our distribution centres.

Share ownership We want everyone in Pearson to own shares in the company and believe that the best way for people to profit from the success of the company is for them to become shareholders.

Employee feedback and communication We continue to ask employees what they think about working in Pearson and each operating company also seeks and reviews its own feedback in detail. We have an internal communications programme which enables us to reach people through e-mails, employee road shows and visits from our senior managers. We try to listen as much as we talk so that we can act upon ideas, suggestions and views.

Additional detail concerning our people is found in the Directors' Report.


To be a successful and sustainable business we have to ensure that we balance our objective of securing supplies without compromising our standards of quality, causing harm to the environment or damaging our suppliers and their workers wherever they are in the world.

We were one of the founder signatories to the United Nations Global Compact. This sets out a series of principles on labour standards, human rights, the environment and anti-corruption. We have set out a series of commitments that reflect these principles against which we monitor and report our performance.

The majority of our key suppliers are located in North America and Western Europe. However, some of our suppliers, particularly those providing print and production services are based in less developed countries. Since signing the Global Compact, we have:

  • Written to many thousands of our suppliers to advise them of our commitment to the Global Compact, and our code of conduct.
  • Included specific contractual commitments relating to the environment, labour standards and human rights in our key contracts, particularly those that relate to paper supply, printing and distribution.
  • Managed an ongoing programme of supplier visits to assess compliance with the Global Compact and our contractual commitments.
  • Worked with the UK book publishing industry to introduce common standards on labour standards and human rights and on an industry database on the environmental characteristics of paper purchased.

Paper is our most significant area of supply sourcing and is predominantly sourced from North America and Scandinavia. Pearson was the first global publishing company to publicly disclose our environmental standards with regard to paper purchasing and we set targets relevant to our policy.

In addition to auditing suppliers against our commitments, we ensure that our commercial purchasing teams have received training on our supply chain labour standards.

Consistent with prior years, our 2007 supplier audits have not identified any material breaches of our supply chain policies.

Details of our supplier payment policy are shown in the Directors' Report.


Increasing consensus over the causes of climate change is emerging. Pearson does not directly operate in industries where there is a potential for serious industrial pollution. Our main products are based on intellectual property. However, our offices and distribution centres do have an impact and we are committed to playing our part in tackling climate change.

A formal environmental policy has been in place at Pearson since 1992. Our Director for people is responsible for the policy, but day-to-day implementation is with our operating companies.

Pearson has an established Environmental Management System (EMS) in place for its global operations broadly based on the requirements of the International Environmental Management System standard, ISO 14001.

Our approach has been successful. We were two years ahead of target in achieving our aim of reducing energy use by 10% compared to our 2003 baseline. However we felt we could go further, so last year, we made a commitment to become climate neutral for those operations we directly control with a view to completing the process by the end of 2009. The challenge is also to every Pearson employee to become climate aware and to identify opportunities for improvement.

We have set up an Environment Executive Committee which will have responsibility for overseeing progress against our climate neutral commitment.

Our main environmental performance indicator is our greenhouse gas emissions expressed in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas. Our target is to reduce these emissions from the 2006 level to zero by the end of 2009. In 2008 we will also be reviewing the environmental impact of companies acquired during 2007.

We have widened the scope of what we include within the company's greenhouse gas inventory and carried out a review of our data collection processes. As a result, we expect the total tonnes of CO2 we report for 2007 to increase. Based on this, our initial focus is on strategies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. We will be outlining our plans further in our Environmental Review for 2007 which will be available in April.

In addition to our broad objectives, management in our operating companies and individual facilities are encouraged to set targets to reduce energy use, emissions and other environmental impacts.

For further information you can read about our environmental policy, practices and our progress towards our climate neutral commitment at

Governance and ethical standards

We are committed to complying with the standards of corporate governance in all countries in which we operate, including UK governance rules contained in the Combined Code on Corporate Governance. Our Director for people has board responsibility for matters relating to Corporate Responsibility.

We also recognise the additional standards that are expected of us in terms of how we conduct our business to ensure we behave and report in an open and transparent manner. Pearson has established its own code of conduct and whistleblowing policies. These are supported by detailed policies on specific issues such as editorial standards and we adhere to external codes such as those of the Press Complaints Commission. Editors and journalists have freedom to make their own content choices within these frameworks. These codes are enforced as an integral part of editorial management and are subject to regular communication, training, and compliance audits.

Risk management

We conduct regular risk reviews to identify risk factors which may affect our business and financial performance. Our internal audit function reviews these risks with each business, agreeing measures and controls to mitigate these risks wherever possible. It is not possible to identify every risk that could affect our businesses, and the actions taken to mitigate the risks described below cannot provide absolute assurance that a risk will not materialise and/or adversely affect our business or financial performance. Our principal risks and uncertainties are outlined on the following pages.

Government regulation

The manufacture of certain of our products in various markets is subject to governmental regulation relating to the discharge of materials into the environment. Our operations are also subject to the risks and uncertainties attendant to doing business in numerous countries. Some of the countries in which we conduct these operations maintain controls on the repatriation of earnings and capital and restrict the means available to us for hedging potential currency fluctuation risks. The operations that are affected by these controls, however, are not material to us. Accordingly, these regulations have not significantly affected our international operations. Regulatory authorities may have enforcement powers that could have an impact on us. We believe, however, that we have taken and continue to take measures to comply with all applicable laws and governmental regulations in the jurisdictions where we operate so that the risk of these sanctions does not represent a material threat to us.

Principal risks and uncertainties

Our intellectual property and proprietary rights may not be adequately protected under current laws in some jurisdictions and that may adversely affect our results and our ability to grow.

Our products largely comprise intellectual property delivered through a variety of media, including newspapers, books and the internet. We rely on trademark, copyright and other intellectual property laws to establish and protect our proprietary rights in these products.

We cannot be sure that our proprietary rights will not be challenged, invalidated or circumvented. Our intellectual property rights in countries such as the US and UK, jurisdictions covering the largest proportion of our operations, are well established. However, we also conduct business in other countries where the extent of effective legal protection for intellectual property rights is uncertain, and this uncertainty could affect our future growth. Moreover, despite trademark and copyright protection, third-parties may copy, infringe or otherwise profit from our proprietary rights without our authorisation.

These unauthorised activities may be more easily facilitated by the internet. The lack of internet-specific legislation relating to trademark and copyright protection creates an additional challenge for us in protecting our proprietary rights relating to our online business processes and other digital technology rights. The loss or diminution in value of these proprietary rights or our intellectual property could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial performance. In that regard, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Pearson Education have joined three other major US publishers in a suit brought under the auspices of the Association of American Publishers to challenge Google's plans to copy the full text of all books ever published without permission from the publishers or authors. This lawsuit seeks to demarcate the extent to which search engines, other internet operators and libraries may rely on the fair-use doctrine to copy content without authorisation from the copyright proprietors, and may give publishers more control over online users of their intellectual property. If the lawsuit is unsuccessful, publishers and authors may be unable to control copying of their content for purposes of online searching, which could have an adverse impact on our business and financial performance.

We seek to mitigate this type of risk through general vigilance, co-operation with other publishers and trade associations, as well as recourse to law as necessary.

We operate in a highly competitive environment that is subject to rapid change and we must continue to invest and adapt to remain competitive.

Our education, business information and book publishing businesses all operate in highly competitive markets, which are constantly changing in response to competition, technological innovations and other factors. A common trend facing all our businesses is the digitisation of content and proliferation of distribution channels, either over the internet, or via other electronic means, replacing traditional print formats. If we do not adapt rapidly to these changes we may lose business to 'faster' more 'agile' competitors, who increasingly are non-traditional competitors, making their identification all the more difficult.

To remain competitive we continue to invest in our authors, products, services and people to take advantage of these opportunities. There is no guarantee that these investments will generate the anticipated returns or protect us from being placed at a competitive disadvantage with respect to scale, resources and our ability to develop and exploit opportunities.

Other competitive threats we face at present include:

  • Students seeking cheaper sources of content, e.g. online, used books or re-imported textbooks. To counter this trend we introduced our own digital textbook programmes and are providing students with a greater choice and customisation of our products.
  • Competition from major publishers and other educational material and service providers, including not for profit organisations, in our US educational textbook and assessment businesses.
  • Penguin: authors' advances in consumer publishing. We compete with other publishing businesses to purchase the rights to author manuscripts. Our competitors may bid to a level at which we could not generate a sufficient return on our investment, and so, typically, we would not purchase these rights.
  • FT: we face competitive threats both from large media players as well as from smaller businesses, online portals and news redistributors operating in the digital arena and providing alternative sources of news and information.
  • People: the investments we make in our employees, combined with our employment policies and practices, we believe are critical factors enabling us to recruit and retain the very best people in our business sectors.

Our US educational textbook and assessment businesses may be adversely affected by changes in state educational funding resulting from either general economic conditions, changes in government educational funding, programmes and legislation (both at the federal and state level), and/or changes in the state procurement process.

The results and growth of our US educational textbook and assessment business is dependent on the level of federal and state educational funding, which in turn is dependent on the robustness of state finances and the level of funding allocated to educational programmes. State finances could be adversely affected by a US recession and/or fallout from the sub-prime mortgage crisis reducing property values and hence state property tax receipts.

Federal and/or state legislative changes can also affect the funding available for educational expenditure, e.g. the No Child Left Behind Act.

Similarly changes in the state procurement process for textbooks, learning material and student tests, particularly in the adoptions market can also affect our markets. For example, changes in curricula, delays in the timing of adoptions and changes in the student testing process can all affect these programmes and therefore the size of our market in any given year.

There are multiple competing demands for educational funds and there is no guarantee that states will fund new textbooks or testing programmes, or that we will win this business.

Education remains a priority across the US political spectrum. Our customer relationship teams have detailed knowledge of each state market. We are investing in new and innovative ways to expand and combine our product and services to provide a superior customer offering when compared to our competitors, thereby reducing our reliance on any particular funding stream in the US market.

Failure to generate anticipated revenue growth, synergies and/or cost savings from recent acquisitions leading to goodwill and intangible asset impairments.

We continually acquire and dispose of businesses to achieve our strategic objectives. We recently completed two relatively large acquisitions, i.e. the Harcourt Assessment and Harcourt Education International business for $950m and the acquisition of eCollege for $491m. If we are unable to generate the anticipated revenue growth, synergies and/or cost savings associated with these acquisitions there is a risk the goodwill and intangible assets acquired (estimated at £430m) could be impaired in future years.

We generate a substantial proportion of our revenue in foreign currencies, particularly the US dollar, and foreign exchange rate fluctuations could adversely affect our earnings and the strength of our balance sheet.

As with any international business our earnings can be materially affected by exchange rate movements. We are particularly exposed to movements in the US dollar to sterling exchange rate as approximately 60% of our revenue is generated in US dollars. We estimate that if 2006 average rates had prevailed in 2007, sales for 2007 would have been £228m or 6% higher.

This is predominantly a currency translation risk (i.e. non-cash flow item), and not a trading risk (i.e. cash flow item) as our currency trading flows are relatively limited.

Pearson generates about 60% of its sales in the US and each 5¢ change in the average £:$ exchange rate for the full year (which in 2007 was £1:$2.00) would have an impact of 1p on adjusted earnings per share.

We estimate that a 5¢ change in the closing exchange rate between the US dollar and sterling in any year could affect our reported adjusted earnings per share by 1p and shareholders' funds by approximately £55m.

The Group's policy on managing foreign curency risk is described below.

Other risks

Our newspaper businesses may be adversely affected by reductions in advertising revenues and/or circulation either because of competing news information distribution channels, particularly online and digital formats, or due to weak general economic conditions.

Changes in consumer purchasing habits, as readers look to alternative sources and/or providers of information, such as the internet and other digital formats, may change the way we distribute our content. We might see a decline in print circulation in our more mature markets as readership habits change and readers migrate online, although we see further opportunities for growth in our less mature markets outside Europe. If the migration of readers to new digital formats occurs more quickly than we expect, this is likely to affect print advertising spend by our customers, adversely affecting our profitability.

Our newspaper businesses are highly geared and remain dependent on print advertising revenue; relatively small changes in revenue, positive or negative, have a disproportionate affect on profitability; therefore any downturn in corporate and financial advertising spend would negatively impact our results.

The diversification of the FT Group into other business models and revenue streams, e.g. subscription based businesses, higher proportion of digital revenues, increased business to business products, conferences and its global reach, goes some way to offsetting reliance on newspaper print advertising.

A control breakdown in our school assessment businesses could result in financial loss and reputational damage.

There are inherent risks associated with our school assessment businesses, both in the US and UK. A breakdown in our testing and assessment products and processes could lead to a mis-grading of student tests and/or late delivery of test results to students and their schools. In either event we may be subject to legal claims, penalty charges under our contracts, non-renewal of contracts and/or the suspension or withdrawal of our accreditation to conduct tests. It is also probable that such events would result in adverse publicity, which may affect our ability to retain existing contracts and/or obtain new customers.

Our robust testing procedures and controls, combined with our investment in technology, project management and skills development of our people minimise the risk of a breakdown in our student marking.

Our professional services and school assessment businesses involve complex contractual relationships with both government agencies and commercial customers for the provision of various testing services. Our financial results, growth prospects and/or reputation may be adversely affected if these contracts and relationships are not properly managed.

These businesses are characterised by multi-million pound contracts spread over several years. As in any contracting business, there are inherent risks associated with the bidding process, start-up, operational performance and contract compliance (including penalty clauses) which could adversely affect our financial performance and/or reputation. Failure to retain contracts at the end of the contract term could adversely impact our future revenue growth.

At Edexcel, our UK Examination examination board and testing business, any change in UK Government policy to examination marking - for example, introduction of new qualifications - could have a significant impact on our present business model.

In addition to the internal business procedures and controls implemented to ensure we successfully deliver on our contractual commitments, we also seek to develop and maintain good relationships with our customers, whether they are commercial or governmental. We also look to diversify our portfolio to minimise reliance on any single contract.

At Penguin, changes in product distribution channels, increased book returns and/or customer bankruptcy may restrict our ability to grow and affect our profitability.

New distribution channels, e.g. digital format, the internet, used books, combined with the concentration of retailer power pose multiple threats (and opportunities) to our traditional consumer publishing models, potentially impacting both sales volumes and pricing.

Penguin's financial performance can also be negatively affected if book return rates increase above historical average levels. Similarly, the bankruptcy of a major retail customer would disrupt short-term product supply to the market as well as result in a large debt write off.

We develop new distribution channels wherever possible by adapting our product offering and investing in new formats. We take steps to challenge illegal distribution sources. To minimise returns we are careful about how we supply orders, taking account of expected sell through. The application of strict credit control policies is used to monitor customer debt.

We operate in markets which are dependent on information technology (IT) systems and technological change.

All our businesses, to a greater or lesser extent, are dependent on technology. We either provide software and/or internet services to our customers or we use complex IT systems and products to support our business activities, particularly in business information publishing, back-office processing and infrastructure.

We face several technological risks associated with software product development and service delivery in our educational businesses, information technology security (including virus and hacker attacks), e-commerce, enterprise resource planning system implementations and upgrades. The failure to recruit and retain staff with relevant skills may constrain our ability to grow as we combine traditional publishing products with online and service offerings.

We mitigate these IT risks by employing project management techniques to manage new software developments and/or system implementations and have implemented an array of security measures to protect our IT assets from attack.

Reputational damage to our brands and financial loss arising from a major data privacy breach.

Across our businesses we hold increasingly large volumes of personal data including that of employees, customers and, in our assessment businesses, citizens. Failure to adequately protect personal data could lead to penalties, significant remediation costs and/or reputational damage.

The protection of personal data and compliance with data privacy legislation has always been a considered a business risk. We have recently re-evaluated our data security procedures and controls across all our businesses with the aim of ensuring personal data is secured and we comply with relevant legislation.

Operational disruption to our business caused by a major disaster and/or external threats restricting our ability to supply products and services to our customers.

Across all our businesses we manage complex operational and logistical arrangements including distribution centres, data centres and large office facilities as well as relationships with third party print-sites. Failure to recover from a major disaster, e.g. fire, flood etc, at a key facility or the disruption of supply from a key third-party vendor could restrict our ability to service our customers. Similarly external threats, such as avian flu, terrorist attacks, strikes etc, could all affect our business and employees, disrupting our daily business activities.

We have developed business continuity arrangements, including IT disaster recovery plans and back-up delivery systems, to minimise any business disruption in the event of a major disaster. However, despite regular updates and testing of these plans there is no guarantee that our financial performance will not be adversely affected in the event of a major disaster and/or external threat to our business. Insurance coverage may minimise any losses in certain circumstances.

Investment returns outside our traditional core US and UK markets may be lower than anticipated.

To minimise dependence on our core markets, particularly the US, we are seeking growth opportunities outside these markets, building on our existing substantial international presence. Certain markets we may target for growth are inherently more risky than our traditional markets. Political, economic, currency and corporate governance risks (including fraud) as well as unmanaged expansion are all factors which could limit our returns on investments made in these non-traditional markets.

We draw on our experience of developing businesses outside our core markets and our existing international infrastructure to manage specific country risks, as well as expanding our financial control resources in those areas. The diversification of our international portfolio, and relative size of 'emerging markets' in relation to the group, further minimises the effect any one territory could have on the overall group results.

Our reported earnings and cash flows may be adversely affected by changes in our pension costs and funding requirements.

We operate a number of pension plans throughout the world, the principal ones being in the UK and US. The major plans are self-administered with the plans' assets held independently of the Group. Regular valuations, conducted by independent qualified actuaries, are used to determine pension costs and funding requirements.

It is our policy to ensure that each pension plan is adequately funded, over time, to meet its ongoing and future liabilities. Our earnings and cash flows may be adversely affected by the need to provide additional funding to eliminate pension fund deficits in our defined benefit plans. Our greatest exposure relates to our UK defined benefit pension plan. Pension fund deficits may arise because of inadequate investment returns, increased member life expectancy, changes in actuarial assumptions and changes in pension regulations, including accounting rules and minimum funding requirements.

The latest valuation of our UK defined benefit pension plan has been completed and future funding arrangements have been agreed between the company and the pension fund Trustee. Additional payments amounting to £100m were made by the company in 2007. We review these arrangements every three years and are confident that the pension funding plans are sufficient to meet future liabilities without unduly affecting the development of the company.

Changes in our tax position can significantly affect our reported earnings and cash flows.

Changes in corporate tax rates and/or other relevant tax laws in the UK and/or the US could have a material impact on our future reported tax rate and/or our future tax payments.

We have internal tax professionals in the UK and US who review all significant arrangements around the world and respond to changes in tax legislation. They work closely with local management and external tax advisers.

Social, environmental and ethical risk

We consider social, environmental and ethical (SEE) risks no differently to the way we manage any other business risk. Our 2007 risk assessments did not identify any significant under-managed SEE risks, nor have any of our most important SEE risks, many concerned with reputational risk, changed year on year. These are:

  • Journalistic/author integrity
  • Ethical business behaviour
  • Compliance with UN Global Compact principles on labour standards, human rights, environment and anti-corruption
  • Environmental impact
  • People

Our risk reporting systems together with our approach to managing the key SEE risks above are described in 'Our Business and Society', the Pearson Corporate Responsibility Report. The web link is available at

Financial risk management

This section explains the Group's approach to the management of financial risk.

Treasury policy

The Group holds financial instruments for two principal purposes: to finance its operations and to manage the interest rate and currency risks arising from its operations and its sources of finance. The Group finances its operations by a mixture of cash flows from operations, short-term borrowings from banks and commercial paper markets, and longer term loans from banks and capital markets. The Group borrows principally in US dollars and sterling, at both floating and fixed rates of interest, using derivative financial instruments ('derivatives'), where appropriate, to generate the desired effective currency profile and interest rate basis. The derivatives used for this purpose are principally rate swaps, rate caps and collars, currency rate swaps and forward foreign exchange contracts.

The main risks arising from the Group's financial instruments are interest rate risk, liquidity and refinancing risk, counterparty risk and foreign currency risk. These risks are managed by the Chief financial officer under policies approved by the board, which are summarised below. All the treasury policies remained unchanged throughout 2007. The audit committee and a group of external treasury advisers, receives reports on the Group's treasury activities, policies and procedures. The treasury department is not a profit centre and its activities are subject to regular internal audit.

Interest rate risk management

The Group's exposure to interest rate fluctuations on its borrowings is managed by borrowing on a fixed rate basis and by entering into rate swaps, rate caps and forward rate agreements. The Group's policy objective has continued to be to set a target proportion of its forecast borrowings (taken at the year end, with cash netted against floating rate debt and before any adjustments for IFRS) to be hedged (i.e. fixed or capped at the year end) over the next four years, subject to a maximum of 65% and a minimum that starts at 40% and falls by 10% at each year end. At the end of 2007 the hedging ratio, on the above basis, was approximately 58%. A simultaneous 1% change on 1 January in the Group's variable interest rates in each of US dollar, euro and sterling, taking into account forecast seasonal debt, would have a £6m effect on profit before tax.

Use of interest rate derivatives

The policy in the section above creates a group of derivatives, under which the Group is a payer of fixed rates and a receiver of floating rates. The Group also aims to avoid undue exposure to a single interest rate setting. Reflecting this objective, the Group has swapped its fixed rate bond issues to floating rate at their launch. This creates a second group of derivatives, under which the Group is a receiver of fixed rates and a payer of floating rates.

The Group's accounting objective in its use of interest rate derivatives is to minimise the impact on the income statement of changes in the mark-to-market value of its derivative portfolio as a whole. It uses duration calculations to estimate the sensitivity of the derivatives to movements in market rates. The Group also identifies which derivatives are eligible for fair value hedge accounting (which reduces sharply the income statement impact of changes in the market value of a derivative). The Group then balances the total portfolio between hedge-accounted and pooled segments, so that the expected movement on the pooled segment is minimal.

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis

The following sensitivity analysis of derivative financial instruments to interest rate movements is based on the assumption of a 1% change in interest rates for all currencies and maturities, with all other variables held constant.

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
£millions Net carrying amount +1% change -1% change
Interest rate derivatives - in a fair value hedge relationship 10 (24) 26
Interest rate derivatives - not in hedge relationship (1) 1 (1)
Cross currency rate derivatives - in net investment hedge relationship 17 - -
Cross currency rate derivatives - not in hedge relationship 9 - -
Total 35 (23) 25

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
£millions Net carrying amount +1% change -1% change
Interest rate derivatives - in a fair value hedge relationship 3 (28) 31
Interest rate derivatives - not in hedge relationship 7 1 (1)
Cross currency rate derivatives - in a net hedge relationship 40 - -
Cross currency rate derivatives - not in hedge relationship 17 (1) 1
Total 67 (28) 31

Liquidity and refinancing risk management

The Group's objective is to secure continuity of funding at a reasonable cost. To do this it seeks to arrange committed funding for a variety of maturities from a diversity of sources. The Group's policy objective has been that the weighted average maturity of its core gross borrowings (treating short-term advances as having the final maturity of the facilities available to refinance them) should be between three and ten years. At the end of 2007 the average maturity of gross borrowings was 4.6 years of which bonds represented 72% of these borrowings (up from 4.5 years and down from 90% respectively at the beginning of the year).

The Group believes that ready access to different funding markets also helps to reduce its liquidity risk, and that published credit ratings and published financial policies improve such access. All of the Group's credit ratings remained unchanged during the year. The long-term ratings are Baa1 from Moody's and BBB+ from Standard & Poor's, and the short-term ratings are P2 and A2 respectively.

The Group's policy is to strive to maintain a rating of Baa1/BBB+ over the long term. The Group will also continue to use internally a range of ratios to monitor and manage its finances. These include interest cover, net debt to operating profit and cash flow to debt measures. The Group also maintains undrawn committed borrowing facilities. During the year the Group extended the maturity date of its main revolving credit facility by one year and entered into a short-term bridge financing facility. At the end of 2007 the committed facilities amounted to £1,369m and their weighted average maturity was 3.2 years.

Analysis of group debt, including the impact of derivatives

The following tables analyse the Group's sources of funding and the impact of derivatives on the Group's debt instruments.

Net borrowings fixed and floating rate stated after the impact of rate derivatives:

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
£millions 2007 2006
Fixed rate 567 514
Floating rate 406 545
Total 973 1,059

Gross borrowings:

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
£millions 2007 2006
Bank debt 458 177
Bonds 1,150 1,566
Total 1,608 1,743

Gross borrowings by currency:

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
    2007 2006
£millions As reported Currency derivatives Combined  
US Dollar 1,251 150 1,401 1,253
Sterling 357 (150) 207 206
Euro - - - 284
Total 1,608 - 1,608 1,743

Financial counterparty risk management

The Group's risk of loss on deposits or derivative contracts with individual banks is managed in part through the use of counterparty limits. These limits, which take published credit limits (among other things) into account, are approved by the Chief financial officer within guidelines approved by the board. In addition, prior to their maturity in February 2007, for a currency rate swap that transformed a major part of the 6.125% Euro Bonds due 2007 into a US dollar liability, the Group entered into a mark-to-market agreement which significantly reduced the counterparty risk of that rate swap transaction.

Foreign currency risk management

Although the Group is based in the UK, it has its most significant investment in overseas operations. The most significant currency for the Group is the US dollar. The Group's policy on routine transactional conversions between currencies (for example, the collection of receivables, and the settlement of payables or interest) remains that these should be transacted at the relevant spot exchange rate. The majority of our operations are domestic within their country of operation. No unremitted profits are hedged with foreign exchange contracts, as the company judges it inappropriate to hedge non-cash flow translational exposure with cash flow instruments. However, the Group does seek to create a natural hedge of this exposure through its policy of aligning approximately the currency composition of its core net borrowings with its forecast operating profit before depreciation and amortisation. This policy aims to dampen the impact of changes in foreign exchange rates on consolidated interest cover and earnings.

The policy above applies only to currencies that account for more than 15% of Group operating profit before depreciation and amortisation, which currently is only the US dollar. However, the Group still borrows small amounts in other currencies, typically for seasonal working capital needs. In addition, the Group currently expects to hold legacy borrowings in sterling to their maturity dates: our policy does not require existing currency debt to be terminated to match declines in that currency's share of Group operating profit before depreciation and amortisation. Included within year end net debt, the net borrowings/(cash) in the two principal currencies above (taking into account the effect of cross currency swaps) were: US dollar £1,119m and sterling £45m.

Use of currency debt and currency derivatives

The Group uses both currency denominated debt and derivative instruments to implement the above policy. Its intention is that gains/losses on the derivatives and debt offset the losses/gains on the foreign currency assets and income. Each quarter the value of hedging instruments is monitored against the assets in the relevant currency and, where practical, a decision is made whether to treat the debt or derivative as a net investment hedge (permitting foreign exchange movements on it to be taken to reserves) for the purposes of IAS 39.

Financial instruments - sensitivity analysis

The sensitivity of the Group's financial instruments to fluctuations in interest rates and exchange rates is as follows:

Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
All amounts in £millions Carrying value Impact of 1% increase in interest rates Impact of 1% decrease in interest rates Impact of 10% strengthening in sterling Impact of 10% weakening in sterling
Investments in unlished securities 52 - - (4) 5
Cash and cash equivalent 560 - - (36) 44
Marketable securities 40 - - (3) 4
Derivative financial intruments 35 (23) 25 11 (13)
Bonds (1,150) 24 (26) 71 (87)
Other borrowings (458) - - 42 (51)
Other net financial assets 408 - - (29) 35
Total financial instrumemts (513) 1 (1) 52 (63)
Interest rate derivative sensitivity analysis
All amounts in £millions Carrying value Impact of 1% increase in interest rates Impact of 1% decrease in interest rates Impact of 10% strengthening in sterling Impact of 10% weakening in sterling
Investments in unlished securities 17 - - (1) 1
Cash and cash equivalent 592 - - (38) 46
Marketable securities 25 - - (2) 2
Derivative financial intruments 67 (28) 31 8 (10)
Bonds (1,566) 28 (31) 108 (132)
Other borrowings (177) - - 16 (19)
Other net financial assets 425 - - (31) 38
Total financial instrumemts (617) - - 60 (74)

The table shows the sensitivities of the fair values of each class of financial instruments to an isolated change in either interest rates or foreign exchange rates. The class 'Other net financial assets' comprises trade assets less trade liabilities.

The sensitivities of derivative instruments are calculated using established estimation techniques such as discounted cash flow and option valuation models.

A large proportion of the movements shown above would impact equity rather than the income statement, depending on the location and functional currency of the entity in which they arise and the availability of net investment hedge treatment.

The changes in valuations are estimates of the impact of changes in market variables and are not a prediction of future events or anticipated gains or losses.

Signature of Robin Freestone

Robin Freestone, Chief financial officer

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