Penguin Random House has announced plans to purchase Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for $2.175 billion in an all-cash deal. ViacomCBS had reportedly hoped to sell S&S for at least $1.2 billion. S&S had $814 million in sales in 2019 and $823 million in 2018.
The company was initially offered for sale in March 2020, but plans were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic hit. After the S&S acquisition closes, likely next year, the Big Five publishers will become the Big Four, and the expanded Penguin Random House will have an estimated market share of 30% of the US book market and annual revenues approaching $3 billion. PRH is owned by German media company Bertelsmann.
Founded in 1924 as a publisher of crosswords, Simon & Schuster has a backlist of more than 30,000 titles, and is the third largest publisher in the US (PRH is the first). CEO and president Jonathan Karp and CFO and COO Dennis Eulau will retain their positions at S&S after the merger, and Karp said S&S would maintain editorial independence and publish the same number of titles following the deal.
For more information, see the NYT article.
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