Paramount Global is close to announcing a sale of its publisher Simon & Schuster to private investment giant KKR, according to a person familiar with the situation. Timing is always fluid but a deal could be announced as early as today. Paramount will report second-quarter earnings this afternoon.
It’s the second deal for the storied publisher. A previous agreement to sell the book publisher to Bertelsmann’s Penguin Random House was blocked by U.S. regulators last year for being anti-competitive — a ruling that was upheld by a federal judge. A transaction with KKR wouldn’t face the same hurdles. HarperCollins, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., was also a suitor.
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The price negotiated with KKR is said to be around $1.62 billion, less than the first was worth, at $2.2 billion. The gap is offset in part by a $200 million termination fee Paramount collected from Bertelsmann when their deal collapsed, as well as accumulated earnings from Simon & Schuster over the past few years.
The media company has been divesting non-strategic assets and real estate as it pivoted to streaming, looking for fresh cash to direct to its core film and television business. It has also been also entertaining offers for a stake in BET. A deal for the publisher, whose authors include Stephen King, will be one of its biggest transactions, one that Wall Street has been waiting for.
CFO Naveen Chopra said at a media conference in June that Paramount was “deep into the marketing process” for Simon & Schuster and could see a path to closing a deal this year. He said it would be “a sizable transaction” and the process was “very competitive,” with strong interest from strategic and financial buyers.
KKR has $510 billion in assets under management.
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