- Educational publisher and services group Pearson said it had decided to pause its share buyback in the wake of the spreading coronavirus.

About £167m of the £350m share repurchase programme had been completed to date.

Pearson said it would freeze the buyback until further notice.

The company said it had 'significant financial headroom', with about £1bn in total liquidity immediately available from cash and its revolving credit facility.

It added that it was 'looking at all options to further maximise liquidity'.

Pearson said it was it was closing the majority of its VUE test centres from now until the middle of April, bringing an estimate financial impact of around £25m-to-£35m on 2020 operating profit.

In the US, meanwhile, test cancellations would impact 2020 operating profit by around £15m after mitigating actions.

'We believe there is risk of further state test cancellations which could have a similar impact on profit,' Pearson said.

The impact of school closures and test delays in the UK, however, was expected to be modest, it added.

'Pearson has continued to make an array of digital learning tools, services and resources available to students, educators and parents affected by COVID-19 school, college and university closures.'

'We have already identified actions to reduce operating expenditure and discretionary spend to partially mitigate the potential impact from COVID-19 and we are actively exploring further efficiencies.'

'We are also exploring whether we qualify for governmental relief in key territories, as a result of the closure of schools and testing centres.'

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