ViacomCBS Selling Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for $2.18B

ViacomCBS agreed to sell its Simon & Schuster publishing business to Penguin Random House for $2.18 billion cash.
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ViacomCBS  (VIAC) - Get Report said Wednesday that it had agreed to to sell its Simon & Schuster publishing business -- home of Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and other writers -- to Penguin Random House for $2.18 billion cash.

Random House, the world's biggest book publisher, is a subsidiary of the closely held German media company Bertelsmann SE. 

Bertelsmann made the highest bid in an auction, outbidding Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.  (NWSA) - Get Report, according to the Financial Times.

Shares of ViacomCBS at last check were down 2% to $33.82.

The New York media giant said it would use the proceeds from the sale to invest in growth fields like streaming, as well as to fund dividends and pay down debt.

Subject to conditions including regulatory clearances, the companies hope to close the deal next year. 

The move followed a review of non-core assets that ViacomCBS conducted earlier this year. Chief Executive Bob Bakish had said in March that he was exploring options for Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster will continue to be managed as a separate publishing unit under the Penguin Random House umbrella.

Jonathan Karp, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster, and Dennis Eulau, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, will continue at the helm.

Simon & Schuster has more than 30 publishing units across adult, children, audio and international. 

Its portfolio of best-selling authors includes King, Goodwin and Jason Reynolds. Its backlist includes perennial favorites like Joseph Heller's "Catch-22" and Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People."

The transaction will have renowned authors like King, Bob Woodward, Dan Brown, and John Grisham housed under one roof.

David Meyer, an antitrust attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department, told The Wall Street Journal that the size of the transaction could attract regulatory scrutiny, saying “their combined share would be sufficient to motivate a close look at the transaction.”

Simon & Schuster published ex-National Security Adviser John Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir” in June.