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Monday, October 29, 2012

News Corp offers for Penguin

Penguin authors and agents 'terrified' at prospect of News Corp takeover

News Corp deal would leave Penguin's reputation in tatters, says co-author of book on downfall of News of the World
Simon Neville in The Guardian comments that in one of the more bizarre twists in the story of modern publishing, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, described by Labour MP Tom Watson as a "toxic institution", could find itself publishing his book on phone hacking as the publisher considers a bid for Penguin.

The reported £1bn offer from News Corp's publishing arm, HarperCollins could be put to the board of parent company Pearson as early as Wednesday, the Sunday Times said. Any approach could spark a bidding war, as Pearson is already in talks with Europe's biggest publisher, Bertelsmann, which owns Random House.

A deal with Random House would create a publishing house responsible for a quarter of English language books worldwide. A HarperCollins linkup would give the firm a market share of about 20%. Both are likely to face inquiries from the competition commission before a deal is finalised.

However, it is unsurprising that it is predicted that the Bertelsmann/Pearson talks will be finalizing within a couple of weeks.

Author and agent reaction to the possibility of an acquisition of Penguin by News Corp is unreservedly horrified.  According to Neville, an agent who represents authors across all three publishing houses said: "Authors have told me they are frightened by a Random House takeover, but terrified by a HarperCollins one."


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