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Pearson overcomes investor ire to hire new CEO with big pay packet

Credit: REUTERS/NEIL HALL

Shareholders in educational publisher Pearson sanctioned the appointment of former Disney executive Andy Bird as CEO on Friday, accepting the need to pay a multi-million pound pay packet to secure his services.

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LONDON, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Shareholders in educational publisher Pearson PSON.L sanctioned the appointment of former Disney executive Andy Bird as CEO on Friday, accepting the need to pay a multi-million pound pay packet to secure his services.

The British company had to get the backing of shareholders to offer Bird a co-investment opportunity worth up to $9.3 million, a move it said was necessary to secure a "rare" talent whose experience fitted with Pearson's requirements.

Of votes cast, 67% backed the move.

"During this process, we have undertaken extensive engagement with our shareholders, in which Andy has been recognised as an outstanding candidate," Sidney Taurel, Chair of Pearson, said.

Although Bird does not have direct experience in education, he has been on Pearson's board since May and helped develop Disney's direct-to-consumer strategy.

Pearson has endured a tumultuous four years as it adapts from selling textbooks to online courseware. Bird will replace John Fallon who cut thousands of jobs, sold off assets and issued a string of profit warnings during his tenure.

Bird will receive a salary of $1.25 million, the chance to double that if he hits targets, the opportunity to earn more again if he beats targets, and shares that vest over three years, currently worth around $9.3 million.

He will also buy Pearson shares worth $3.75 million.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by James Davey)

((kate.holton@thomsonreuters.com 0044 207 542 8560; Reuters Messaging: kate.holton.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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