European Union approves Random House-Penguin merger

The European Union cleared the merger of publishers Random House and Penguin on Friday, saying it does not pose a risk to competition.

The EU said the merger doesn’t threaten competition. In a press release, the European Commission said of its investigation:

“The Commission assessed the impact of the transaction on the upstream markets for the acquisition of authors’ rights for English language books in the European Economic Area (EEA) and worldwide, and on the downstream markets for the sale of English language books to dealers in the EEA, in particular in the UK and Ireland. The Commission found that on both types of markets the new entity Penguin Random House will continue to face competition from several large and numerous small and medium sized publishers. As regards the sale of English language books, the merged entity will furthermore face a concentrated retail base, such as supermarkets for print books and large online retailers for ebooks, like Amazon. In addition, the Commission’s investigation revealed 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.”

As I reported last month, Random House and Penguin announced their merger last October and the U.S. Department of Justice approved it in February, followed by Australia and New Zealand. Random House’s parent company Bertelsmann would own 53 percent of the combined company, and Penguin parent company Pearson would hold 47 percent. Random House Penguin’s goal is to enter emerging markets and expand its digital business.

The merger awaits approval by Canada and China.