Penguin settles with EU on agency

Penguin settles with EU on agency

Penguin has reached an agreement with the EU to settle its antitrust investigation over agency pricing, in order to "clear the decks" ahead of the company's proposed merger with Random House.

According to the EU’s Official Journal, Penguin will not “restrict, limit or impede” e-book retailers’ discounts or their ability to “set, alter or reduce retail prices for e-books” for two years.

Penguin was the last remaining company under antitrust investigation in the EU not to have offered a settlement. Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre and Holtzbrinck all made a proposal to settle the EU probe in September last year.

The EU's antitrust regulator is giving competitors and customers until 19th May to comment on the proposed changes, which would then become legally binding if no substantial changes are recommended.

In an emailed statement, Penguin confirmed that "subject to the market test currently under way, it has reached an agreement with the European Commission to settle its investigation". It continued: "Penguin's position that it has done nothing wrong remains unchanged and the company continues to believe that the agency pricing model operates in the best interests of consumers and authors. While we disagree with some elements of the commission's analysis, we are settling as a procedural matter to clear the decks in anticipation of our proposed merger with Random House."

Penguin settled with the US Department of Justice
over the parallel investigation in the States into e-book pricing in December last year, again in the interests of the proposed Penguin Random House company, so that the company "begin[s] life with a clean sheet of paper".