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Houghton Mifflin Climbs on Deal to Sell Book Unit to News Corp.

News Corp will pay $349 million cash for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's books and media segment.
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News Corp.  (NWSA)  agreed to acquire Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's  (HMHC)  books and media segment for $349 million, a move to bolster its HarperCollins Publisher subsidiary. 

News Corp, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, is the parent of media businesses including, among many others, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones, Fox Entertainment and the U.K. Times.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, meanwhile, says it will now focus on its education segment. 

Divesting the HMH Books & Media business 'allows us to deepen our focus on K­­­–12 education, while also providing our talented consumer publishing colleagues and authors with infrastructure and support to fuel continued growth, champion new stories and continue this legacy," Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's chief executive, Jack Lynch, said in a statement. 

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt shares at last check jumped 24% to $7.39. News Corp. shares were little changed at $25.71.

HMH's learning technology company in the K-12 market serves 90% of the schools and teachers in the U.S., according to the company. 

The company updated its full-year 2021 outlook to adjust for the sale. 

HMH Books & Media contributed about $192 million in billings to the company in 2020. HMH expects net cash proceeds of $337 million, which it plans to use to pay down debt. 

News Corp's HarperCollins business is the second largest consumer book publisher in the world after Bertelsmann's Penguin Random House. 

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said it expected to close the deal in the second quarter, subject to conditions including regulatory clearances. 

Last year, Bertelsmann agreed to purchase the Simon & Schuster publishing unit from ViacomCBS  (VIAC)  for $2.17 billion cash.