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Pearson CEO Andy Bird is stepping down after three years at the helm of the education group, and will be replaced by Microsoft executive Omar Abbosh.

London-listed Pearson Group said on Wednesday that Aboush, president of Microsoft’s industrial solutions business, will take over early next year.

Since taking office in 2020, Byrd has worked to transform Pearson from a focus on textbooks to a digital provider of education and training services. The group was one of the best performers in the FTSE 100 last year.

Despite the share price performance, Pearson faced a backlash from investors in April over top executive pay after the company’s new pay policy recommended raising maximum annual bonuses from 200% to 300% of salary.

“Pearson has a solid foundation and growth trajectory, and Andy believes now is the right time to hand over the reins to his successor,” Pearson Chairman Omid Kordestani said in a statement.

Bird said it has been a “huge privilege” to lead Pearson through a period of significant change over the past three years.

Before joining Microsoft in 2020, Abosh worked at consulting group Accenture for more than three decades.

Abosch, who will earn a base salary of £1 million, will also become an executive director of Pearson. Bird’s total compensation last year was $8.5 million, of which $6.6 million was performance-related.

Pearson shares fell 3% in early trading.

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