United Newspapers PLC finally sold Extel Financial last week, to London-based Pearson PLC. Muscling out rival bidders Thomson and Dutch publishing group VNU, Pearson will pay 73.5 million pounds sterling-- about 20 percent more than the next-closest bid. Sources say VNU and, previously, McGraw-Hill balked at the price and withdrew from the bidding process, leaving Thomson the sole runner-up with its bid of some 60 million pounds sterling. The acquisition roughly doubles the size of Pearson's

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