By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Also Reported Bidders: HarperCollins, KKRVarious news media and wire-service reports are following Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg’s report with Jessica Toonkel at the Wall Street Journal on developments in the renewed bidding for the 99-year-old American publisher Simon & Schuster.
On Wednesday (June 21), Trachtenberg and Toonkel wrote that the Richard Hurowitz of the New York investment firm Octavian & Company “with backing from Abu Dhabi-based sovereign wealth manager Mubadala Investment Co. has emerged as a bidder for book publisher Simon & Schuster, according to people familiar with the situation.”
Some in the world publishing community may be heartened to know that Hurowitz is a writer, the author of In the Garden of the Righteous: The Heroes Who Risked Their Lives to Save Jews During the Holocaust. They may also note the gentle irony of the fact that the book was published on January 24 by HarperCollins, a competitive bidder for Simon & Schuster, per Toonkel and Trachtenberg’s report on June 15.
At Publishers Lunch, Michael Cader is reporting that Hurowitz and Mubadala are also said by persons familiar “to likely have been bidders for S&S in 2020 as well”—the first round of acquisition efforts that concluded with Penguin Random House’s attempt being blocked in October, in Washington’s antitrust lawsuit.
Cader is informed in this by his exhaustive record of the Penguin Random House effort.
As Reuters’ Amy-Jo Crowley and Anirban Sen reported on February 14, Simon & Schuster’s parent company Paramount Global reopened its efforts to sell S&S—per Crowley and Sen’s sources—”working with a financial adviser to explore a sale that could value [S&S] between US$2 billion and $2.5 billion.”
At the time, Crowley and Sen wrote that Paramount would consider private equity firms as possible buyers “because they do not compete with [S&S] and would not raise competition concerns with US regulators.”
In their June 15 piece, Toonkel and Trachtenberg indeed reported that not only HarperCollins but also the private-equity firm KKR was being named by those close to the situation as a bidder for Simon & Schuster.
A Second Pence Book Announced
The Emirati state-owned Mubadala Investment Company was founded in 2017, in a merger of Mubadala Development Company and the International Petroleum Investment Company, and reports on its site that it manages 1,015 billion dirhams in assets (US$276 billion) reaching at least 50 countries.
As Trachtenberg notes, Simon & Schuster’s financial performance has been encouraging, with a reported 2022 gain of 19 percent in 2022 to $1.18 billion. Sales in the first quarter of this year reportedly rose 19 percent, as well, to $258 million.
The publishing house—which has become the United States’ most prominent producer of political literature—announced on June 15 that it will publish former US vice-president Mike Pence’s Go Home for Dinner: Advice on How Faith Makes a Family and Family Makes a Life on November 14. Go Home for Dinner, written with Pence’s daughter Charlotte Pence Bond, is described as a piece focused on Pence’s principles which include prioritizing family.
Simon & Schuster previously published Pence’s memoir, So Help Me God, in November. The two-book deal was part of what prompted a petition circulated by some members of the publishing house’s staff, calling on executives to deny book contracts to former members of the Trump administration.
At the time, in a memo to the staff on the topic, Simon & Schuster CEO Jonathan Karp wrote in a staff memo: “Our role is to find those authors and works that can shed light on our world–from first-time novelists to journalists, thought leaders, scientists, memoirists, personalities, and, yes, those who walk the halls of power.
“Regardless of where those authors sit on the ideological spectrum, or if they hold views that run counter to the belief systems held by some of us, we apply a rigorous standard to assure that in acquiring books, we will be bringing into the world works that provide new information or perspectives on events to which we otherwise might not have access.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s sources this week indicate that a second round of bids for Simon & Schuster is set for mid-July.