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ViacomCBS said Wednesday it is selling book publishing behemoth Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House, a subsidiary of German media giant Bertelsmann SE & Co., for $2.175 billion in an all-cash deal.

Why it matters: The deal brings together the biggest and third-biggest book publishers in the U.S., which means it could be met with antitrust scrutiny.

Details: The deal comes at a time in which book consumption is peaking during the pandemic.

  • Simon & Schuster has more than 30 publishing units across adult, children, audio and international, per ViacomCBS. Its portfolio includes authors like Stephen King, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Jason Reynolds.
  • Penguin is the largest book publisher in the country, having sold approximately 25% of all books in the country last year, per The Wall Street Journal. Its portfolio includes titles like former President Barack Obama's latest book, "A Promised Land," and Michelle Obama's memoir, "Becoming."
  • LionTree Advisors is acting as the exclusive financial adviser and Shearman & Sterling LLP is acting as legal adviser to ViacomCBS in the deal.

Between the lines: Reports surfaced earlier this month that News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers, the second-largest book publisher in the U.S., was also interested in a potential deal. The deal would make HarperCollins a distant second in size to a combined Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House company.

The big picture: ViacomCBS announced last year that it was looking to sell the nearly 100-year-old book publisher as a part of a greater effort to offload non-core assets and focus on streaming. The company is also hoping to resume the sale of CBS’s Manhattan headquarters building, known as Black Rock, after the pandemic.

What's next: The transaction is expected to close in 2021 subject to regulatory approvals.

Go deeper

Prince Harry and Meghan expand media push with exclusive Spotify deal

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Spotify on Tuesday announced a multi-year partnership with Archewell Audio, the newly formed audio production company created by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle.

Why it matters: It's the latest effort from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to use media as a platform for change. The pair signed a multi-year Netflix deal in September.

Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults

A vaccination center installed at the Barbara Chapel of St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria. Photo: Alex Halada/AFP via Getty Images

Austria's lower house of parliament voted on Thursday in favor of making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for most adults from next month.

Why it matters: The bill is expected to soon pass the upper house and be signed by President Alexander Van der Bellen in order for the law to take effect Feb. 1, per Reuters. It'd make Austria the first EU nation to impose such a sweeping mandate.

Hope King, author of Closer
Updated 3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.