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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is ready to join the bidding for Pearson’s Penguin book publishing unit with a $1.6 billion offer subject to due diligence, the Times of London and New York Times reported late Sunday.
News Corp. would merge Penguin with its HarperCollins book division, which the conglomerate is scheduled to spin off as part of its publishing business next year. The News Corp. offer comes after news that Pearson was in talks to merge Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House, with the latter set to own 60 percent of the combined entity.
The New York Times said Penguin and HarperCollins would have a combined market share of 20 percent of English-language book sales. Penguin and Random House would have a 25 percent share.
News Corp. appears willing to pay a premium to wrest Penguin from Random House with its bid coming in above the $1 billion-$1.45 billion value Wall Street analysts have put on the Pearson publishing unit.
A News Corp. spokesman declined to comment on the reported offer for Penguin.
Penguin authors include Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy and Nick Hornby. HarperCollins authors include Michael Crichton and Neil Gaiman.
Amid the challenges facing book stores and the rise of e-books, industry observers have predicted consolidation of book publishers. With News Corp. bidding for Penguin, the Times of London, part of News Corp., said others could join the bidding.
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