January 20, 2021

Report: ViacomCBS is Selling Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House For $2 Billion

From The NY Times:

The biggest book publisher in the United States is about to get bigger. ViacomCBS has agreed to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion in a deal that will create the first megapublisher.

Penguin Random House, the largest book publisher in the United States, is owned by the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. Adding Simon & Schuster, the third largest publisher, would create a book behemoth, a combination that could trigger antitrust concerns.

The deal includes provisions that would protect ViacomCBS in the event that a sale is squashed by authorities. Bertelsmann would pay what is known as a termination fee if the deal does not go through.

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From CNBC:

The transaction is expected to close in 2021.

The deal comes after ViacomCBS put the global publisher up for auction, a move it made to divest non-core assets from its company. Proceeds from the deal will be put toward ViacomCBS’s streaming business, fund its dividend and pay down debt. The company also recently sold CNET for $500 million as part of this strategy.

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Full Text of Official Joint News Release

ViacomCBS Inc.  today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the publishing business Simon & Schuster (“Simon & Schuster”) to Penguin Random House LLC (“Penguin Random House”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, for $2.175 billion in cash.

This divesture follows a strategic review of non-core assets ViacomCBS undertook early in 2020. Proceeds from the transaction will be used to invest in ViacomCBS’s strategic growth priorities, including in streaming, as well as to fund the dividend and pay down debt.

This transaction is the outcome of a highly competitive auction that attracted interest from buyers around the world, reflecting Simon & Schuster’s position as one of the world’s best known publishing brands. Simon & Schuster has more than 30 publishing units across adult, children, audio and international. Its portfolio of best-selling authors includes Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jason Reynolds, and it owns a rich backlist of perennial favorite titles such as Catch-22 and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The transaction is expected to close in 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Upon close, Simon & Schuster will continue to be managed as a separate publishing unit under the Penguin Random House umbrella, and Jonathan Karp, President & CEO of Simon & Schuster, and Dennis Eulau, COO and CFO, will continue at the helm of the publishing house.

LionTree Advisors is acting as the exclusive financial advisor and Shearman & Sterling LLP is acting as legal advisor to ViacomCBS in this transaction.

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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