Friday, January 20, 2017

Books world alarmed by Pearson's sale of stake in Penguin Random House

Management have moved to reassure staff and writers that selling the 47% holding will not affect business, but authors and agents express unease

Numbers games … old Penguin books in a secondhand bookshop.
 Numbers games … old Penguin books in a secondhand bookshop. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
Authors and staff have reacted cautiously to news that Pearson is to sell its stake in Penguin Random House (PRH), the world’s biggest publisher and home to some of the most successful brands in books, among them Fifty Shades of Grey, Jamie Oliver and The Girl on the Train.

PRH moved quickly to address fears among staff that the sale of the 47% share to German-owned Bertelsmann would affect jobs. In a statement, global chief executive Markus Dohle promised it would be “business as usual for us”. He added: “Both Pearson and Bertelsmann continue to be very supportive of our strategy and our success, and both have been valued shareholders for us.”
Bertelsmann is expected to increase its holding in the business to 75%, with the remainder funded by private equity. PRH was set up as a joint venture in 2013 following the £2.4bn merger of Penguin and Random House.


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