(Alliance News) - Pearson PLC on Monday said it has hired Andy Bird, the former chair of Walt Disney International, as chief executive.
Bird, a current non-executive director at FTSE 100 publishing firm Pearson, was most recently at Walt Disney Co, responsible for its non-US businesses as Walt Disney International chair. He joined Disney in 2004 and led an expansion of the international unit into a digital-focused business.
Before joining Disney, Bird held senior positions at AOL Time Warner. His new role as CEO is set to begin October 19, until which time current boss John Fallon will continue on as chief. Fallon will remain as an advisor until the end of 2020.
London-based Pearson noted that: "In order to secure the appointment of a high-quality candidate, the board has, having consulted with a small number of Pearson's largest shareholders, approved a remuneration package which it is satisfied will promote the long-term success of Pearson and support the creation of long-term shareholder value."
This package includes a co-investment award that recognises Bird's commitment to a "significant personal investment in Pearson shares" plus a salary bonus and long-term incentive awards.
The co-investment falls outside the company's remuneration policy as approved by shareholder and need a separate approval. A general meeting to obtain this approval will take place and Bird's appointment is conditional on this being granted.
Bird's annual base salary will be USD1.3 million and he will, under the one-off co-investment, purchase shares at an aggregate cost equal to USD3.8 million by the end of 2020. In consideration for this, he would be granted a co-investment award of up to 1.2 million Pearson shares.
This award, worth GBP6.9 million at the current share price of 577.00 pence, will vest in thee equal tranches in December of 2021, 2022, and 2023 subject to performance and continued employment. Pearon's shares were marginally lower on Monday morning.
Pearson will also contribute to rental costs of a New York apartment for Bird to use for business purposes.
Pearson Chair Sidney Taurel said: "We are delighted to have secured someone of Andy's calibre, after an extensive search and selection process. Andy brings a wealth of international consumer experience, as well as significant expertise in building brands, transformational change and driving digital innovation. He is an inspirational and dynamic leader with an excellent track record of growth.
"Because of his experience and skills, he is extremely well placed to continue the transformation of Pearson, leading it to a new era of growth and enhancing value for all our shareholders."
Taurel also thanked outgoing CEO Fallon, saying: "During his tenure as chief executive, John has significantly simplified, modernised and re-shaped Pearson, building a digital education company that is focused on experience, outcomes and affordability. This is underpinned by a stronger balance sheet which leaves us well placed to capture the long-term growth opportunities in a rapidly changing and increasingly digital education market."
Pearson shares were trading 0.1% lower at 577.40p each on Monday morning in London.
By Anna Farley; firstname.lastname@example.org
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