ViacomCBS Agrees to Publishing Arm’s Spin


The sale of publishing business Simon & Schuster by ViacomCBS was an event many expected would occur sooner or later, following the reunification of Viacom and CBS Corp. under the direction of majority shareholder National Amusements, Inc.

On Wednesday, ViacomCBS officially said goodbye to Simon & Schuster.

It’s earning billions from the divestment.

The buyer is a Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA subsidiary that already has a major presence in the publishing world: Penguin Random House.

And, Bertelsmann is paying $2.175 billion in cash to ViacomCBS for Simon & Schuster.

ViacomCBS says the divesture follows a strategic review of non-core assets it undertook early in 2020. Proceeds from the transaction will be used to invest in ViacomCBS’s strategic growth priorities, including in streaming, as well as to fund the dividend and pay down debt, it adds.

The transaction, ViacomCBS adds, is the outcome “of a highly competitive auction that attracted interest from buyers around the world.”

Simon & Schuster has more than 30 publishing units across adult, children, audio and international. Its portfolio of best-selling authors includes Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jason Reynolds, and it owns a rich backlist of titles such as Catch-22 and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The transaction is expected to close in 2021, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals. Upon close, Simon & Schuster will continue to be managed as a separate publishing unit under the Penguin Random House umbrella.

Simon & Schuster President/CEO Jonathan Karp and COO/CFO Dennis Eulau will remain in their respective roles.

LionTree Advisors is acting as the exclusive financial advisor and Shearman & Sterling LLP is acting as legal advisor to ViacomCBS in this transaction.