In April 2020, a deal went through between Penguin Random House and a German company called Bertelsmann. The company acquired the remaining stake of Penguin Random House.
With the acquisition, Penguin Random House's former owner—British publisher Pearson—liquified its remaining stake.
About Bertelsmann's ownership of Penguin Random House
Prior to the 2020 Bertelsmann deal, Pearson still owned a 25 percent stake of Penguin Random House. Bertelsmann acquired the remaining stake for a total of $675 million.
Since Bertelsmann is also a media company, the acquisition was an attempt to cover more ground in the publishing world. After the deal, Bertelsmann is the sole owner of Penguin Random House with a 100 percent stake.
Bertelsmann's move leds to a Simon & Schuster acquisition
Now that Bertelsmann leads Penguin Random House, the company wants to expand even more. Penguin Random House is set to acquire Simon & Schuster. The company announced the plans on Nov. 25. Formerly owned by ViacomCBS, Simon & Schuster is selling for $2.2 billion.
Penguin Random House is already the largest book publisher in the U.S. With the Simon & Schuster acquisition, many experts say that the company will likely become the world's first mega-publisher. Due to Penguin Random House's size, the organization will likely face antitrust lawsuits in the future regarding monopolistic claims. After all, the newly formed business would have control over more than a third of all the books published and sold in the U.S.
Who owns Bertelsmann?
Bertelsmann Stiftung is the parent organization of Bertelsmann and is led by owner Liz Mohn. The company is also spearheaded by CEO Ralph Heck. After Mohn's husband died, she became the fifth-generation owner in the Bertelsmann-Mohn family.
Will the Penguin Random House merger lead to layoffs?
With less competition in the publishing industry, Penguin Random House could see job cuts. Authors who write for the company may also receive reduced payments. As a result, it could be harder for indie authors to make their way.
Will Penguin Random House Canada release Jordan Peterson's book?
Employees at Penguin Random House Canada are upset about the upcoming release of clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson's book, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life. People want the publication to get canceled. They argue that Peterson is a white supremacist, transphobe, and frequent deliverer of hate speech.
"The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things and then publishing Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative," one employee told Vice.
Currently, the company plans to go through with the publication.
Penguin Random House stock is available through Bertelsmann
Penguin Random House is a privately held company, but you can find its owner on the market. Bertelsmann stock trades on the NYSE American small cap equity market under the ticker symbol "BTG."
Bertelsmann stock closed on Nov. 25 at $5.31 per share. Since Nov. 6, the company's capital has fallen by more than 23 percent. Earlier this year, the stock rose more than 170 percent, likely in response to the Penguin Random House acquisition in April. We'll have to wait and see if the Simon & Schuster deal has the same impact on Bertelsmann stock.