Thursday, January 19, 2017

Pearson Wants to Sell Its PRH Stake

Shelf Awareness

In announcing more bad financial news this morning, Pearson indicated for the first time that it wants to sell the 47% of Penguin Random House that it owns, and is sending partner Bertelsmann, which owns the other 53%, an "exit notice." In November, Pearson CEO John Fallon had said the company "will consider" selling its stake in 2017.

Bertelsmann responded this morning with a statement from CEO Thomas Rabe: "We are open to increasing our stake in Penguin Random House, provided the financial terms are fair," adding, "Strategically this would not only strengthen one of our most important content businesses, it would also once further strengthen our presence in the United States, our second largest market."

Under the 2012 merger agreement that created PRH, each company had to hold its stake for three years and each has the right of first refusal if the other wants to sell. Last year, according to the Guardian, Rabe said that Bertelsmann would be comfortable with 70%-75% ownership and said investors were interested in the remaining share.

Pearson CEO Coram Williams told analysts today that this is "the right time" to sell its stake in PRH because, the Bookseller quoted, "the impact of new e-book contractual terms negotiated under the new agency agreement was 'now clear.' "

Williams added that there is "no set price" for the sale and that the two companies will try to agree on a price or involve independent assessors. A sale is expected to take at least several months.

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