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ViacomCBS selling Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for US$2.18b

[NEW YORK] US media group ViacomCBS said Wednesday it is selling Simon & Schuster to rival publisher Penguin Random House for US$2.18 billion in cash, creating a giant in the world of books.

Big-name writers on the roster at Simon & Schuster include Stephen King and Doris Kearns Goodwin, while Barack and Michelle Obama and John Grisham have books published by Penguin Random House, a subsidiary of the German company Bertelsmann.

"This transaction is the outcome of a highly competitive auction that attracted interest from buyers around the world, reflecting Simon & Schuster's position as one of the world's best known publishing brands," ViacomCBS said in a statement.

That media conglomerate - which owns TV networks such as CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Showtime, as well as the film studios Paramount and Miramax - no longer considered its publishing unit a priority and had been trying for months to sell it.

ViacomCBS said it will use the proceeds to invest in strategic growth priorities including streaming, and to pay dividends and reduce its debt.

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The deal is expected to close in 2021 but still needs approval from US competition regulators.

If the sale goes through, Simon & Schuster will still be a separate publishing unit under the Penguin Random House umbrella and Jonathan Karp will continue to be its CEO, ViacomCBS said.


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