Paramount scraps $2.2bn sale of Simon & Schuster publishing to Penguin | publishing

Penguin Random Home, the world’s largest guide writer, and rival Simon & Schuster have scrapped a $2.2bn deal to merge, Penguin’s proprietor mentioned in a press release on Monday.

Bertelsmann, the German media group that owns Penguin, initially mentioned it might enchantment a US decide’s ruling that the acquisition of Simon & Schuster could be unlawful as a result of it might cowl authors’ salaries.

However Bertelsmann mentioned in a press release on Monday that it “will advance the expansion of its international guide publishing enterprise with out the beforehand deliberate merger of Penguin Random Home and Simon & Schuster”.

Reuters reported on Sunday that the German firm couldn’t persuade Paramount International, proprietor of Simon & Schuster, to increase the deal and is interesting the decide’s resolution.

Decide Florence Pan from the US district courtroom for the District of Columbia dominated on October 31 that the justice division has proven the deal can considerably scale back competitors “out there for US publishing rights to anticipated bestsellers”.

With the termination of the settlement, Penguin can pay a termination price of $200m to Paramount.

Paramount mentioned on Monday that Simon & Schuster is a “non-core asset” for Paramount. “It isn’t video-based and due to this fact doesn’t match strategically inside Paramount’s broader portfolio,” the corporate mentioned in a submitting in regards to the deal’s termination.

The justice division didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

In contrast to most merger fights, which give attention to what customers pay, the Biden administration mentioned the deal ought to be stopped as a result of it might result in much less competitors for blockbuster books and fewer progress for authors making $250,000 or extra.

The choice comes because the Biden administration has made it clear that it intends to combat what it sees as a monopoly place, blaming them, amongst different issues, for rising meat costs and rising live performance ticket costs.

The guide business has gone via a sequence of consolidations in recent times and critics worry massive mergers will scale back competitors whereas making life tougher for smaller publishers.

Penguin is the biggest writer in the US. Its authors embody cookbook creator Ina Garten and novelists Zadie Smith and Danielle Steele, whereas Simon & Schuster publishes Stephen King, Jennifer Weiner and Hillary Rodham Clinton, amongst others.

The US justice division filed a lawsuit geared toward stopping the deal in November 2021.

Within the hearings held in August, the federal government argued that the 5 largest publishers management 90% of the market, and Penguin mixed with Simon & Schuster will management nearly half of the marketplace for blockbuster guide publishing rights, whereas the closest competitor shall be much less. greater than half the scale.

King, creator of bestsellers together with The Stand and The Shining, was among the many authors and brokers who testified throughout the trial, saying it might scale back competitors.

“You too can say that you just need to have a husband and spouse who apply for a similar home. That is sort of ridiculous,” King advised the courtroom. “Consolidation is dangerous for competitors.”

Reuters contributed to this story

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