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Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster’s merger deal worth $2.2 billion (£1.9 billion) has been blocked by a US court.
In a brief order, US District Judge Florence Pan said the deal could “substantially” lessen competition in the publishing industry. The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to stop the deal last November.
In 2013, Penguin Random House was formed by merging two major publishers from the US and the UK.
“The court finds that the United States has shown that the effect of the proposed merger may be substantially to lessen competition in the market for US publishing rights to anticipated top-selling books,” Judge Pan said in her two-page order.
Penguin said in a statement that it would appeal against the decision, calling it “an unfortunate setback for readers and authors”.
In response, the Biden administration is stepping up its regulation of anti-competitive practices.
Random House’s German parent company, Bertelsmann, initially owned 53% of Penguin Random House, while 47% was held by Penguin’s owner Pearson.
Bertelsmann became the sole owner of Penguin Random House in April 2020.