Sources have told London’s Sunday Times and other media outlets that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is considering a bid for book publisher Penguin, owned by Pearson.
According to the Sunday Times, which is owned by News Corp., Murdoch's company could make an offer of about $1.6 billion as early as Wednesday, the Guardian reported.
The offer could derail a merger deal in the works between Penguin and Bertelsmann’s Random House, the Wall Street Journal reported. The possible merger, which would create a new publisher with more than 25 percent market share, was confirmed just a few days ago.
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Bertelsmann and Pearson have discussed combining into a joint venture that would be majority-owned by Bertelsmann, the Wall Street Journal reported. News Corp. could offer Pearson cash for Penguin, plus combining its publishing business HarperCollins with Penguin would create a smaller company that might sidestep antitrust issues that a Random House/Penguin would have to deal with.
"Presumably one of the advantages of a smaller market share is that it will be less of an issue for the regulators," Lorraine Shanley, president of industry consulting firm Market Partners International Inc., told the Wall Street Journal.
The News Corp. offer rumors are alarming writers, the Guardian reported. "Authors have told me they are frightened by a Random House takeover, but terrified by a HarperCollins one,” One literary agent told the Guardian. "HarperCollins are far less author-friendly – they appear to be a monolithic and centralized organization and, although Murdoch may not be pulling the strings, his mindset is certainly instilled in the company.”