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Thomson to sell education units

STAMFORD, Conn. --Thomson Corp., a provider of information and software tools to law, financial services and other business customers, said Wednesday it will sell its Thomson Learning education segment as part of a realignment taking effect Jan. 1.

The education segment serves the higher education, careers, library reference, corporate e-learning and e-testing markets.

"Thomson Learning is an excellent business, but it does not fit with our long-term strategic vision," said Richard J. Harrington, president and chief executive officer. "After the sale of Thomson Learning, the vast majority of our sales will come from electronic products and services with recurring revenue that are currently growing at high rates."

Thomson said it agreed to sell NETg, a provider of continuing corporate education and training services, to Skillsoft PLC for about $285 million. The sale is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2007.

Thomson is currently seeking buyers for assessment services unit Prometric through a competitive bidding process, and expects the sale to be concluded in 2007. The company said competitive bidding will begin in the first quarter of 2007 for its higher education, careers and library reference operations.

Under plans for the realignment, Thomson will reorganize its operations into six existing units supported by a corporate center and will eliminate the current market group structure. The units will include North American Legal, Financial, Scientific, International Legal & Regulatory, Tax & Accounting, and Healthcare.

Brian H. Hall will assume the newly created role of vice chairman. Hall, who has been the CEO of Thomson's Legal & Regulatory market group for more than 10 years, will oversee corporate strategy, investment allocation, marketing and communications and branding. James C. Smith will become chief operating officer. Smith is currently president and CEO of the Academic & Reference Group in Thomson Learning.

"This realignment sharpens our strategic focus and will speed decision-making, increase organizational transparency and create a more efficient cost structure," Harrington said.

Shares closed earlier up $1.59, or 3.9 percent, at $42.45 on the NYSE. The company is slated to report third-quarter earnings before the bell Thursday.

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