KKR Closes $1.62 Billion Purchase of Simon & Schuster

The book publisher is now a standalone company for the first time since 1975 after Paramount Global sale

An office building with the name "Simon & Schuster" across the front.
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Private equity firm KKR has closed its $1.62 billion purchase of Simon & Schuster from Paramount Global.

The New York-based publishing house, which has a deep list of bestselling authors from horror master Stephen King to Britney Spears to Elon Musk biographer Walter Isaacson is now a standalone private company, KKR said in a statement, making it the only major independent publisher in the U.S.

Jonathan Karp, who took the helm in 2020, remains as president and CEO.

“This is an exciting moment for us—both a return to our roots as a standalone company and an opportunity for all of us to forge a new path together,” Karp said in a statement.

Simon & Schuster was last on its own in 1975, when it was sold to Gulf + Western. It was sold to Paramount predecessor Viacom in 1994.

Paramount’s sale process was messy: it first inked a deal in late 2020 to sell the publisher to rival Penguin Random House for $2.2 billion, but the federal government scuttled the plan with an antitrust suit a year ago. It reached a new pact to sell to KKR in August.

In addition to its namesake imprint, Simon & Schuster also owns Scribner, Atria Books, Gallery Books, Adams Media, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Simon & Schuster Audiobooks.

Paramount previously said it expected the transaction to yield approximately $1.3 billion in net proceeds, which it planned to use to pay down debt.

“After a highly competitive process, this is an ideal outcome for both Simon & Schuster and Paramount,” Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said in a statement. “Simon & Schuster is positioned well for future growth, and the transaction itself demonstrates significant value capture for Paramount and meaningfully advances our de-levering plan.”

Paramount shares were down a penny in morning trading to $11. The stock is down about 35% since the start of the year.

“With KKR’s resources and support, we intend to become an even stronger company and a more dynamic force in our industry, while still maintaining our well-established record of editorial excellence and independence, and our unceasing focus on doing the best for our authors and their books,” Karp said. “I know that we will build on that legacy going forward.”

Ted Oberwager, a KKR partner who leads the company’s gaming, entertainment, media and sports verticals, said, “The company is in a strong position to capture the opportunity ahead, and we look forward to building on Simon & Schuster’s reputation for delivering engaging and compelling books to readers all over the world.”

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