By LILLY VITOROVICH
LONDON—Rona Fairhead, chief executive and chairman of the Financial Times newspaper, is stepping down from her job, making her the second senior executive at publisher Pearson PSON.LN -1.35%
PLC to resign in a little less than two months.
Ms. Fairhead, 51 years old, who had been at Pearson for more than a decade, will quit the board at the company's annual shareholder meeting in April, the company said Tuesday.
Her resignation follows news last month that Pearson's long-serving Chief Executive Marjorie Scardino would leave the company at the end of the year.
"The leadership transition at Pearson makes this a natural moment for me to make a change," Ms. Fairhead said in a statement. "I will miss Pearson deeply but will cheer from the sidelines as its new leadership team develops and evolves Pearson's successful strategy and culture."
Ms. Fairhead joined Pearson in October 2001, and was appointed chief financial officer in June 2002. She became CEO of the Financial Times Group in 2006.
Ms. Scardino said Ms. Fairhead has been "at the heart of Pearson's development and progress" for just over a decade. "She has been an exceptional executive and colleague and, while we regret her decision to go, we respect her desire for a new challenge," she said.
Ms. Scardino's resignation early last month fueled long-running speculation that a sale of the Financial Times and Penguin Group books could be in the cards. Both units fall outside Pearson's core educational publishing business.
A few weeks later, Pearson agreed to combine Penguin with Bertelsmann SE & Co.'s Random House, a merger that will create the largest book publisher in the U.K. and the U.S.
A Pearson spokesman said speculation about a sale of the Financial Times is unfounded. CEO-designate John Fallon visited the newspaper's offices last week and "made it clear that the FT is not for sale," the spokesman said.
Analysts had suspected that the change at the top could lead other senior executives at Pearson to leave, including Ms. Fairhead, Penguin CEO John Makinson and Will Ethridge, who runs the company's vast education operations in the U.S.
"They might all have wanted the top slot and could potentially leave," Investec Securities' Steve Liechti said in a note to investors at the time.Write to
Lilly Vitorovich at email@example.com