Bids for Simon & Schuster are due next week, and there are reportedly three suitors still in the race: News Corp, Bertelsmann and Vivendi.
Meanwhile, News Corp CEO Robert Thomson is warning of antitrust concerns if Bertelsmann — already the world’s largest publisher thanks to ownership of Penguin Random House in the US — were to take the lead.
Thomson said he would not discuss what he called “speculation and scuttlebutt” on News Corp’s reported interest during the company’s shareholder meeting on Wednesday. News Corp owns The New York Post.
“But I would make one observation about Simon & Schuster,” he said. “It will clearly be a serious antitrust issue if Bertelsmann acquires Simon & Schuster.”
“However cute and clever the structure, if Bertelsmann is their beneficiary, it will be a book behemoth. And this will certainly be a profound antitrust issue for the entire book industry and, no doubt, for authors around the world.”
Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe has confirmed his interest in buying Simon & Schuster and said he did not feel there would be anti-trust issues.
Although S&S owner ViacomCBS was initially said to be looking for $1.2 billion, according to a report in The New York Times this week, one suitor has already indicated it would bid $1.7 billion.
Sources have confirmed that bids are due before Thanksgiving.