Bertelsmann’s Random House Wins EU Backing for Penguin Bid

Bertelsmann SE’s Random House won European Union approval to buy Pearson Plc’s Penguin unit to create the largest book publisher in the U.K. and the U.S.

The European Commission said the deal wouldn’t raise competition concerns because the combination would face strong rivalry from large and small publishers, regulators said in an e-mailed statement.

There was “no evidence that the transaction would lead to risks of coordination among publishers in relation to the acquisition of authors’ rights and the sale of English language books to dealers,” the commission said.

The joint venture, named Penguin Random House and to be based in New York, will be 53 percent-owned by Bertelsmann, with Pearson holding the remainder, the companies said in October. Bertelsmann Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rabe said the venture will control about 25 percent of the industry.

Bertelsmann said the EU approval adds to previous backing from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Australian and New Zealand competition authorities earlier this year.

“Several other regulatory authorities in various parts of the world are currently reviewing the transaction,” the Guetersloh, Germany-based company said in an e-mailed statement. “The two companies are confident that the approvals will be forthcoming during the course of the year.”

Separately, Penguin said last year it is in discussions with the EU on a possible deal to end an antitrust probe into pricing agreements for digital books. Apple Inc., the world’s biggest technology company, and four publishers in December ended the EU investigation concerning them with an offer to drop agreements they struck in 2010.

While London-based Pearson was targeted by the EU when it opened the e-books investigation in 2011, the company didn’t join the other publishers in proposing a settlement in April 2012.

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