British publisher Pearson, owner of the Financial Times newspaper, said Wednesday that chief executive Marjorie Scardino will step down later this year, ending her 16-year tenure. \"Marjorie Scardino has decided to step down as Pearson\'s chief executive at the end of 2012,\" the group said in a statement. \"John Fallon will succeed her as chief executive on 1 January 2013, and joins the Pearson board with immediate effect.\" Fallon, 50, has been head of Pearson\'s international education division since 2008. Prior to that, he was head for the group\'s Europe, Middle East and Africa unit since 2003. Dame Marjorie Scardino, 65, became the first woman to head a FTSE 100 company when she was appointed on January 1, 1997. Pearson added that she had guided the group through a period of \"profound change\" in the media and publishing industries, which have moved from traditional print publishing businesses to digital and services businesses. Under her watch, annual sales have tripled to almost £6.0 billion ($9.7 billion, 7.5 billion euros), while operational profits have grown by more than three times to a record high of £942 million in 2011. \"Under Marjorie\'s leadership, Pearson has fundamentally shifted its business portfolio towards all kinds of learning, its geographic exposure towards fast-growing economies and its product mix towards digital and services,\" added chairman Glen Moreno in the statement. \"It has been a radical and highly successful transformation. I know that many of Pearson\'s shareholders, customers and people will join me today in applauding her enormous contribution to the company.\" This year, Pearson expects to generate more than half of the group\'s revenues from digital and services businesses for the first time in its history. Scardino added: \"Though we\'ve changed the company beyond recognition from its form in 1997, we are still in the foothills of the climb to make all kinds of learning more accessible and more effective for more people.\" In early morning deals, Pearson shares dipped 0.97 percent to 1,225 pence on the FTSE 100 index of leading companies, which was 0.30 percent lower at 5,792.07 points.