Simon & Schuster purchased by private equity firm KKR for $1.62 billion

NEWYORK — Simon & Schuster was sold to private equity firm KKR, months after a federal judge blocked the acquisition of rival publisher Penguin Random House over concerns that competition would shrink the book market. One KKR executive called the deal an opportunity to work with “one of the most productive book publishers.”

The private equity giant will buy Simon & Schuster for $1.62 billion in cash, said Paramount Global, the publisher’s parent company. Simon & Schuster will operate as an independent entity, under the leadership of Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Karp.

“We are very excited,” Karp said Monday. “We will remain an independent company and not only will we continue to grow, but with the help of KKR we can become even greater.

Paramount, which on Monday reported a loss of $424 million in the three months to June 30, will use the proceeds of the sale to pay off debt. The deal must be approved by the government, but is unlikely to face the same opposition as the Penguin Random House deal.

Simon & Schuster, where authors include Stephen King, Colleen Hoover and Bob Woodward, are among the so-called “Big Five” of New York publishing, along with others including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group and Macmillan. HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has expressed interest in buying Simon. & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster has sold a lot over the past two years, even as the book market has cooled. The publisher has scheduled the release of some of its most anticipated books this fall, including Britney Spears’ memoir “The Woman in Me” and Walter Isaacson’s biography of Elon Musk.

Richard Sarnoff, KKR’s president of communications, praises Simon & Schuster works well and effectively and says it will retain editorial independence.

“We’re not going to tell them what to buy, what to publish or what not to publish,” said Sarnoff, a former executive at Penguin Random House’s parent company, the German group Bertelsmann. “There is a 99-year legacy of editorial independence that we will defend.”

Sarnoff says no layoffs are planned and that KKR hopes to invest and expand Simon instead. & Schuster, cites international sales as an area for growth. Like other companies KKR owns, they plan to give Simon & Schuster’s employee equity, a deal that could give the publisher a competitive advantage. In an industry where starting salaries range from $45,000 to $50,000, a cause for the increasingly unhappy young people trying to make ends meet in the New York City area, a share Ownership can ultimately be worth half or more of a worker’s annual salary, according to Sarnoff.

“The advantage is huge,” he said. Sarnoff added that he does not know how long KKR will run Simon & Schuster before selling it, although he cited five to seven years as a typical time period. “We don’t have a fixed timeline,” he said.

Employee equity is rare in book publishing, but not unheard of. Norton World War & Company, founded in 1923, has been wholly employee-owned for decades.

In late 2020, Paramount announced the sale of Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House for $2.2 billion, a deal that could make the new company the largest to date in the United States. But the Justice Department, under the Biden administration, has taken a tougher stance on consolidation than other recent presidents, suing to block the sale in 2021.

After a three-week trial in the summer of 2022, with King among those opposing the merger, US District Judge Florence Y. Pan ruled in favor of the government, saying the DOJ had makes “a compelling case to predict” substantial damage to competition.”

Paramount refuses to appeal the decisionand instead renewed efforts to sell Simon & Schuster, next year marks its centenary. The publisher, founded in 1924 by Richard Simon and Max Schuster, has changed ownership a few times since being purchased by Gulf + Western in 1975. Paramount has been trying to sell the publisher for years, deemed it inconsistent with the company’s focus on video entertainment.

Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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