Fairhead will now be responsible for the Financial Times and its business magazines, and Pearson's international business newspapers and financial magazines, as well as the FT Group's joint venture businesses such as the FTSE, co-owned with the London Stock Exchange, and the Economist Group, in which the FT has a 50% stake.
Fairhead replaces Olivier Fleurot, who moves to Pearson to develop its emerging digital technology while Robin Freestone, Pearson's deputy chief financial officer, takes over from Fairhead. He also becomes a Pearson board member.
John Ridding, who is currently editor of the Financial Times in Asia and chairman of Pearson in Asia, will become chief executive of the FT and FT.com. His replacement has yet to be announced.
Marjorie Scardino, chief executive of Pearson, said: "Rona will be looking for opportunities to make the most of the FT Group as a whole. Rona and John have achieved a great deal at Pearson and we're delighted that they are taking on these new roles.
"For the past four years, everyone has worked tirelessly to return the FT to profit. Olivier deserves much of the credit for doing what was needed to accomplish that."
Scardino went on to describe Freestone as an "experienced finance professional" who will be "a strong CFO and an asset to the board".
Fairhead added: "Our content is unrivalled and, as technology continues to change the habits of users, readers and advertisers, we can marry the two to develop new services for our customers. "
Pearson announced last month that it was expecting a rise in profitability on the back of strong advertising growth, which saw revenue rise by a third last year.
At the company's AGM, Pearson said that the FT continues to convert at least 80% of its ad gains into profit.
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