PRH owner Bertelsmann 'interested' in buying S&S

PRH owner Bertelsmann 'interested' in buying S&S

Penguin Random House owner Bertelsmann has said it is “interested” in buying Simon & Schuster.

Thomas Rabe, the German media firm's c.e.o., told the Financial Times his company would consider taking on the publishing house.

Simon & Schuster was put up for sale by ViacomCBS earlier this year, with c.e.o. Bob Bakish saying it was not a “core asset”.

Rabe told the FT: “We’ve been the most active player on the consolidation of the book publishing market in the past 10 years. We combined Penguin and Random House very successfully to create by far the largest book publisher in the world, actually the only global book publisher. Given this position we would, of course, be interested in Simon & Schuster.”

Rabe, whose firm bought out Pearson's stake in PRH earlier this year to become sole owner, predicted there would be a “wave of consolidation” in the media sector once the coronavirus crisis ended.

He also shrugged off antitrust concerns over owning two such big companies. Simon & Schuster is the third biggest publisher in the US, although it has a smaller global reach than PRH. Rabe said: “We looked at this and we don’t think it is an issue. If you look at the market holistically, particularly the strength of Amazon, and it includes self-publishing and the like, we don’t think this will be an obstacle.”

In its recent first-half report, S&S publishing revenues slipped 3%, down from $382m to $370m, although earnings rose to $57m, up 6% from $54m.  

Bertelsmann's own first-half report was released on 1st September, showing group revenues falling 8.9%, although PRH's own dipped by just 1.4%.