KKR, HarperCollins submit refreshed offers for book publisher Simon & Schuster, sources say

Breaking News 3 August

KKR, HarperCollins submit refreshed offers for book publisher Simon & Schuster, sources say

  • Second-round bids submitted on 1 August
  • Paramount keen to avoid entering into prolonged regulatory process

Buyout firm KKR [NYSE:KKR] and HarperCollins have submitted refreshed offers for Simon & Schuster, according to sources familiar with the matter, advancing a sale process that could see one of the US’s biggest book publishers finally change hands.

Paramount Global [NASDAQ:PARA], the parent company of Simon & Schuster, collected second-round bids for the subsidiary on 1 August as part of a formal auction being run by investment bank LionTree, said the sources.

With the auction, Paramount is looking to secure a buyer for Simon & Schuster for the second time in less than three years. Rival Penguin Random House, owned by German conglomerate Bertelsmann, agreed to acquire Simon & Schuster for roughly USD 2.2bn in November 2020 before a US federal judge sided with the Department of Justice last year in agreeing that the merger could lessen competition for “anticipated top-selling books”. Penguin Random House is the No. 1 book publisher in the US market, holding a 2 1% share for print books in the US, according to industry studies.

HarperCollins, which is No. 2 with an 11% share, continues to pursue Simon & Schuster, though seller Paramount is conscious to avoid entering into another prolonged regulatory process with regulators, the sources said.

To be sure, US District Judge Florence Pan, who oversaw the case brought by the Justice Department, suggested that other publishing rivals could yet emerge as viable suitors of Simon & Schuster in the future. “Other potential buyers from the publishing industry have shown interest in acquiring S&S and it is just as likely that another publishing company will prevail in a future sale,” she wrote in a memorandum opinion.

Simon & Schuster’s suitors have been in discussions with banks and direct lenders about supporting possible offers in recent weeks as the sale process nears its final stages, according to the sources.

Paramount is aiming to select a preferred bidder in the coming weeks, they added.

Representatives for Paramount and KKR declined to comment. LionTree and HarperCollins did not respond to requests for comment.

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