Mar 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

ViacomCBS exploring sale of Simon & Schuster

Photo: Sam Mellish/In Pictures via Getty Images

ViacomCBS is looking to sell Simon & Schuster, the nearly 100-year-old publishing business, ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish said Wednesday.

Why it matters: The possible move comes as part of the company's plan to shed noncore assets to better focus on its core businesses: video and streaming.

Details: "[W]e’ve made the determination that Simon & Schuster is not a core asset of the company," Bakish said at an investor conference in San Fransisco. "It is not video-based, it doesn’t have significant connectivity to our broader business."

  • Bakish said he's received multiple inbound calls for the publisher, and he expects it to be an easy sell. According to the Wall Street Journal, ViacomCBS expects north of $1 billion for the asset.
  • The publisher has for decades sold classic titles from storied authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen King.

The big picture: Bakish stressed that managing the newly merged company's balance sheet is a focus, which is why ViacomCBS is looking to explore dumping noncore assets.

  • He noted that the company is already engaged in conversations with buyers to sell CBS’s Manhattan headquarters building, known as Black Rock, and that the company anticipates closing that deal in 2020.
  • "[R]est assured, we are going to continue to look for other places where we believe there’s opportunities to dispose of assets in an accretive way," he said.

What's next: Bakish seemed to indicate that the sale process was underway and would be completed by year's end. He noted the sale "will produce material cash in 2020.”

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