ViacomCBS has sold its 96-year-old publisher, Simon and Schuster, to Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House for more than $2 billion. This deal will drastically change Penguin Random House’s position in the US publishing market and the industry itself.
The Big Five Publishers (including HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan) will be reduced to four. NewsCorp, which owns HarperCollins, was also rumored to bid for Simon & Schuster. As NewsCorp’s chief executive Robert Thomson said in a statement, “Bertelsmann is not just buying a book publisher, but buying market dominance as a book behemoth.” This deal could face potential legal issues, as combining the market share of Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House could be enough to raise antitrust concerns.
The proceeds from this deal will be invested in Viacom’s streaming services. Viacom will receive $2.17 billion in cash from the sale and it’s expected to close in 2021.