NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge blocks Penguin Random House’s proposed takeover of Simon & Schuster, ruling that a merger of two of the world’s biggest publishers could ‘reduce competition’ for ‘best-selling books’ I agree with the opinion of the ministry. The ruling was a victory for the Biden administration’s tougher approach to the proposed merger and a departure from decades of precedent under Democratic and Republican leadership.
U.S. District Court Judge Florence Y. Pang announced the decision in a short statement Monday, saying much of her ruling remains sealed at this time because of “confidential information” and “highly sensitive information.” I added that there is. She asked both sides to meet on Friday and suggest edits.
The Penguin Random House condemned the ruling as an “unfortunate setback for readers and authors” and said in a statement Monday it would seek a speedy appeal.
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Cantor of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division commended the decision, saying in a statement that the decision “protects important competition for books and is a victory for authors, readers and the free exchange of ideas.” ‘ said.
“The proposed merger would reduce competition, reduce author pay, reduce the breadth, depth and diversity of our stories and ideas, and ultimately impoverish our democracy.”
Ms. Pang’s findings weren’t surprising: Throughout much of the trial in August, she said Penguin Random House’s plan to buy Simon & Schuster for $2.2 billion would damage an important cultural industry. We agreed with the Department of Justice’s assertion that it was possible.
But it was a dramatic departure from the recent history of the book world and beyond. have been consolidated over the years with little government intervention. The merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster would create a company far superior to any of its rivals, and among those who opposed the merger was his Stephen King, one of Simon & Schuster’s signature authors. He testified on behalf of the government last summer.
The Biden Department of Justice is pushing for aggressive enforcement of federal antitrust laws that officials say are aimed at ensuring a fair and competitive marketplace.
Monday’s news follows the agency’s recent losses in two high-profile antitrust cases in separate federal courts. The DOJ lost a bid to prevent U.S. Sugar, a major US sugar maker, from buying rival Imperial Sugar, one of the country’s largest sugar refiners. Prosecutors have suggested they intend to appeal the decision. Attempts to do so were also stymied.
DOJ is also battling American Airlines and JetBlue in antitrust cases in federal court in Boston, challenging a regional partnership in the Northeast that the government calls a de facto merger.
The DOJ lawsuit against Penguin Random House did not focus on overall market share or potential price increases for customers. DOJ instead argued that the new company would control the market for commercial books with his $250,000 or more author advances so much that the size of the advances would shrink and the number of releases would decline.
Markus Dohle, global CEO of Penguin Random House, has promised that Penguin Random House and the Simon & Schuster imprint will continue to allow bidding on books from each other. However, he admitted under oath during the trial that his guarantees were not legally binding. objected.
Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, Simon & Schuster may eventually become the new owners. The publisher was listed for sale well before the Penguin Random House deal was announced in late 2020, and the publisher’s parent, Paramount Group, doesn’t see Simon & Schuster as part of the future. says no. Bidders for Penguin Random House included Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, which owns HarperCollins Publishers.
From King and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Colleen Hoover and Doris Kearns Goodwin, Simon & Schuster is one of the nation’s oldest and most successful publishers. Penguin Random House authors include Clinton’s husband and former president Bill Clinton, novelist Delia Owens of Where Crowdad Sings, and historian Robert A. Caro.
In a company memo shared with the Associated Press on Monday, Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp said: “Despite this news, our company continues to thrive. Thanks to your efforts, we are more successful and valuable than ever.”
Meanwhile, Pang was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to replace Ketanji Brown Jackson after being nominated by Biden and receiving Supreme Court confirmation in the Senate.
Washington AP writer Mercy Gordon contributed to this report.
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