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We will have to wait a little longer for the unveiling of the "new Pearson". Many of those who gathered to hear the announcement of the group's annual results on 17 March hoped for major revelations -- or, at the very, least, some hints as to its future strategic direction. They were disappointed but not really surprised.
After all, Marjorie Scardino. Pearson's new chief executive, had been in the job for only 50 days and she had spent a good part of that time firefighting on the financial scandal at Penguin's US division. Shortly after Scardino took over, she discovered the division had developed a 100 [pounds sterling] million hole in its accounts, courtesy of a rogue accountant who had been handing out unauthorised discounts to the US book trade.
Provision for this "exceptional circumstance" certainly damaged profits -- down 30l per cent year-on-year -- but the underlying performance isn't bad at all. Turnover for 1996 actually reached a record level of 2.19 [pounds sterling] billion and Scardino was convincingly able to …