NEW YORK — ViacomCBS Inc. is selling its publishing business Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, for $2.175 billion in cash.
The sale is part of ViacomCBS’ strategy to unload core assets and focus on its TV networks and film business following the merger of Viacom and CBS. Proceeds from the sale will be used to invest in ViacomCBS’s strategic growth priorities, including in streaming, as well as to fund the dividend and pay down debt.
Simon & Schuster is part of the Big Five in publishing companies which will now be whittled down to four: Penguin Random House, Hachette, Macmillan and Harper Collins. Simon & Schuster has more than 30 publishing units across adult, children, audio and international. Its portfolio of best-selling authors includes Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jason Reynolds, and it owns a rich backlist of perennial favorite titles such as Catch-22 and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Simon & Schuster was founded in 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. The company publishes over 2,000 titles per year and has 1,400 employees.
The sale of Simon & Schuster is expected to close in 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Upon close, Simon & Schuster will continue to be managed as a separate publishing unit under the Penguin Random House umbrella, and Jonathan Karp, President & CEO of Simon & Schuster, and Dennis Eulau, COO and CFO, will continue at the helm of the publishing house.
LionTree Advisors is acting as the exclusive financial advisor and Shearman & Sterling LLP is acting as legal advisor to ViacomCBS in this transaction.