ViacomCBS announced today that it is selling publishing company Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House in a deal worth $2.175 billion, the New York Times reports. The transaction is set to close next year. ViacomCBS is in the process of cutting nonessential assets from the company. CEO Bob Bakish revealed plans to sell the 96-year-old publishing company in March of this year. “We’ve made the determination that Simon & Schuster is not a core asset of the company,” he said at the time, per The Hollywood Reporter. “It is not video-based; it doesn’t have significant connectivity to our broader business. At the same time, there’s no question it’s a marquee asset that’s highly valuable.” Proceeds from the sale will go toward ViacomCBS’s streaming ventures, fund its dividend, and pay down debt. The company did the same to CNET in September, selling it for $500 million. Including Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House’s German parent company, Bertelsmann, will account for around 30 percent of all books sold in the United States, creating a “megapublisher.” The deal is likely to be scrutinized by antitrust regulators.
With Simon & Schuster’s 30,000 titles, best-selling authors like Dan Brown, Stephen King, John Grisham, and the Obamas will be under the same corporate umbrella. Simon & Schuster will continue to act independently. In July, Simon & Schuster named its first-ever Black vice-president and publisher, journalist Dana Canedy. Jonathan Karp, president and CEO, as well as Dennis Eulau, COO and CFO, will both remain in their positions. In 2013, Penguin and Random House merged into Penguin Random House. “Penguin, Random House, Simon & Schuster” is gonna take some editing before it doesn’t sound like an unreliable law firm.