Penguin Random House owner Bertelsmann sets out to acquire Simon & Schuster for $2.2bn

Published on: 26th November 2020

Bertelsmann, owner of publishers Penguin Random House, has set out to acquire Simon & Schuster from ViacomCBS for $2.2bn, in a move that would ‘strengthen the company’s global footprint,’ particularly in the US.

Simon & Schuster employs around 1,500 people worldwide and generated revenues of $814 million in 2019.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close sometime next year. Bertelsmann has stated that it is ‘confident’ the acquisition would be approved.

The Bookseller reports that Simon & Schuster will continue to be managed as a separate publishing entity under the Penguin Random House umbrella.

Thomas Rabe, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann said that the deal to acquire Simon & Schuster will enable the company to expand its global content business, strengthen its digital offering and build dominance in the US.

“Following the full acquisition of Penguin Random House in April this year, this purchase marks another strategic milestone in strengthening our global content businesses, which includes Penguin Random House, the Fremantle TV production business, and the BMG music division,” said Rabe.

“The book business has been part of Bertelsmann’s identity since the founding of C Bertelsmann Verlag more than 185 years ago and has lost none of its appeal to this day. Bertelsmann continues to be one of the world’s leading creative companies with annual investments in content of around €6bn.

“Bertelsmann will finance the acquisition of Simon & Schuster from existing cash resources. External borrowing is not necessary, thanks partly to the overall positive business development since the summer and the already completed sale of various businesses, investments and real-estate properties.”

Markus Dohle, CEO of Penguin Random House, added: “Simon & Schuster is an extremely well-managed and extraordinarily attractive company with world-renowned authors, 2,000 new publications annually, and a catalog of 35,000 titles. We are very proud to welcome this esteemed company, founded in 1924, to our global publishing community.

“We share the same passion for books and reading and will work together to give our authors the greatest possible access to readers worldwide. Penguin Random House empowers its 320 publishers around the world with maximum creative and entrepreneurial freedom and will, of course, extend this to our new colleagues at Simon & Schuster.”

Ian Chapman, UK and international publisher and CEO for Simon & Schuster, said: “The news today comes at the end of a long year for us all and we welcome it with open arms. To become part of the outstanding global company that is Penguin Random House is a truly significant moment for us all. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the staff in the UK, India and Australia for their fortitude and resilience during this uncertain time and our authors and their literary agents who have shown abiding loyalty and trust in us. We look forward to thriving even more vibrantly under new ownership.”


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