More merg­ers

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - READS -

WHEN Pen­guin and Ran­dom House merged in 2013, The New York Times re­ported that the new pub­lish­ing group “will make up the big­gest and most dom­i­nant pub­lisher in the busi­ness, one that has un­matched lev­er­age against Ama­zon. com and the po­ten­tial to in­spire other merg­ers in the in­dus­try”.

Now an­other two pub­lish­ers are merg­ing. Two years af­ter a planned deal fell through, Ha­chette Book Group is pur­chas­ing the Perseus Books Group, bring­ing to­gether two of Amer­ica’s largest pub­lish­ers.

The com­pa­nies is­sued sep­a­rate state­ments on Tues­day, an­nounc­ing that Ha­chette had ac­quired Perseus’ pub­lish­ing divi­sion, an ex­ten­sive net­work of im­prints that in­cludes Ba­sic Books, PublicAf­fairs and Run­ning Press. The pur­chase, which Ha­chette ex­pects to be com­pleted by the end of the month, joins Ha­chette’s power in the fic­tion mar­ket with Perseus’ cat­a­logue of thou­sands of non­fic­tion works.

Ha­chette pub­li­ca­tions range from Stephe­nie Meyer’s Twi­light se­ries to Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize- win­ning The Goldfinch to J. D. Salinger’s fic­tion, while Perseus’s books in­clude Sa­man­tha Pow­ers’ Pulitzer- win­ning A Prob­lem From Hell and H. G. Bissingers’ Fri­day Night Lights. Perseus will op­er­ate as a divi­sion within Ha­chette, un­der the lead­er­ship of Perseus pub­lisher and se­nior vice pres­i­dent Su­san Weinberg.

“We are bring­ing over the Perseus staff as is,” Ha­chette CEO Michael Pi­etsch says. “Perseus has great pub­lish­ing pro­grammes that are man­aged re­ally well. They will add to our rev­enue. They will add to our size and pres­tige. They are good for the top line and the bot­tom line.”

In 2014, Ha­chette and Perseus called off a com­plex, three- way trans­ac­tion that would have had Ha­chette buy­ing Perseus’ pub­lish­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion divi­sions, then sell­ing off the dis­tri­bu­tion arm. Perseus is still hop­ing to sell its dis­tri­bu­tion arm, which in­cludes Con­sor­tium and Pub­lish­ers Group West and works with many in­de­pen­dent pub­lish­ers.

Perseus CEO David Stein­berger plans to stay with Perseus un­til it finds a buyer for its dis­tri­bu­tion ser­vice, then pur­sue other em­ploy­ment. He also will re­main as board chair­man for the US Na­tional Book Foun­da­tion, which over­sees the Na­tional Book Awards and nu­mer­ous ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes.

Ha­chette, which strug­gled for much of 2015 but had a strong fourth quar­ter, is owned by the French con­glom­er­ate La­gardere. Perseus is cur­rently owned by Cen­tre Lane Part­ners LLC, a New York- based pri­vate equity firm. – AP

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