Rumoured Bidders for Simon & Schuster Announced
By Megan Whitlock
In the aftermath of the Department of Justice’s permanent injunction blocking Penguin Random House’s proposed Simon & Schuster acquisition, The Wall Street Journal has reported on new rumoured bidders throwing their hat in the ring to acquire the big five publisher.
The Simon & Schuster acquisition story has been nothing if not complex, with the initial bidders, Penguin Random House, being taken to court by the US Department of Justice over fears of the merger creating an unfair monopoly over the publishing market. The thirteen-day trial, taking place in August last year, saw speakers such as Stephen King take to the stand and came to a ruling in October, with the deal being blocked over fears of the repercussions for authors, readers and market competition as a whole.
Now initial reports suggest that another big five publisher, HarperCollins, as well as investment company KKR, are in the running as new bidders after the fall through of last year’s $2.2 billion deal. Paramount Global, the owners of Simon & Schuster, first announced their intent to sell the publisher back in March 2020, with CEO Bob Bakish stating at the time that the division “does not have significant connection for our broader business” (Variety, 2020). Reuters’ sources suggest that the publishing house is valued anywhere between $2 billion–$2.5 billion.
If HarperCollins (owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp) is to bid for Simon & Schuster, it must take the gamble that the proposed merger will not succumb to the same fate as Penguin Random House’s. Indeed, HarperCollins were one of the major bidders for the company the first time around, where it only narrowly lost out. On the other hand, the other rumoured bidder, KKR, is an American global investment company, with dealings in private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit and hedge funds.
Only time will tell who the other bidders may emerge to be, or if the acquisition looks to be set for another complex conversation about market monopolies in publishing. For now, in the aftermath of the pandemic, court case and industry kick-back, the sale is still looking far from resolved.