An insider has told the New York Times that News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate, is in negotiations to bid on Pearson PLC’s Penguin book publishing division. The Times reports:
News Corporation’s interest comes just days after Pearson confirmed that German media giant Bertelsmann, the parent company of Random House, had approached the British company about acquiring its Penguin division.
News Corporation owns HarperCollins, one of the units of the media conglomerate that will soon be spun off into a separate publicly traded company consisting of other print assets like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post.
According to the source, News Corp. made a cash offer of $1.6 billion, which the Times points out “could blunt a potential merger with Random House.”
Murdoch’s business has a vested interest in the potential Random House-Penguin merger; if it goes through, the company would would control “roughly 25 percent of all books published in the United States,” creating serious competition for HarperCollins.