Simon & Schuster has been sold for $1.62bn (£1.27bn) to a private equity firm – just months after a takeover bid by rival Penguin Random House was blocked.
New owner KKR said the company, one of the so-called “big five” English language book publishers worldwide, would continue to operate as a standalone entity and vowed that its independence would be protected.
The deal must be approved by regulators, but commentators believe it is unlikely there will be any objections.
Simon & Schuster’s writers include horror author Stephen King and journalist Bob Woodward. It is also preparing for the high-profile releases of Britney Spears’ memoir The Woman In Me and Walter Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk later this year.
It comes after Penguin Random House, which is owned by German media giant Bertelsmann, announced in November 2020 that it planned to buy Simon & Schuster for £1.9bn.
However US federal judge Florence Pan blocked the deal in October 2022 on the grounds less competition for big-selling books would hurt the authors’ earnings. It came after the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in 2021 in an attempt to halt the takeover.
There had also been criticism over the deal from many in the publishing world – including from Simon & Schuster’s own author Mr King, who testified that consolidating the industry would be bad for competition.
Despite the courtroom loss, Simon & Schuster’s parent company, entertainment giant Paramount, continued to look for a buyer. It is expected to spend the proceeds of the sale on paying off debt.
The company on Monday reported losses of $424m (£332m) for the three months leading up to June 30.
Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp, who will continue in his role under the new owners, said he was “delighted”.
“We will remain an independent company and not only will we continue to thrive, but with the help of KKR we can become even greater,” he added.
Richard Sarnoff, chair of media at KKR, said: “We’re not going to tell them what to buy, what to publish or what not to publish.
“There’s a 99-year legacy of editorial independence that we’re going to protect.”
Simon & Schuster, which will celebrate its centenary next year, has reported strong sales in the past two years.
KKR said there were no plans for any job losses – and instead hoped to expand the publisher’s reach internationally.
Mr Sarnoff added that KKR could run Simon & Schuster for around five to seven years before selling it on, but said no firm timeline had been decided yet.