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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.

Cuomo says words may have been "misinterpreted" following allegations of harassment

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a Feb. 22 news conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AF via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a lengthy statement on Sunday saying he " never inappropriately touched anybody" but acknowledged that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation," after two of his former aides accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Prior to Cuomo's statement, in which he adds that he "never inappropriately touched anybody" or meant to make anyone uncomfortable, the governor's office and the state attorney general went back and forth in a public disagreement about how to investigate the allegations.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."