New York Post - 13.03.2020

(Ben Green) #1

New York Post, Friday, March 13, 2020


ven as the market crumbles on coronavi-
rus fears, the sales process for Simon &
Schuster is chugging along.
At least 20 inbound inquiries materialized
since ViacomCBS CEO Robert Bakish re-
vealed on March 4 that he wants to sell its
book publishing subsidiary, a source close to
the process said before noting that many of
them will not likely materialize into bidders.
“Only a small number of [potential bidders]
are expected to be competitive,” the source
ViacomCBS has tapped Aryeh Bourkoff’s
Lion Tree as the investment banker to handle
the sale of venerable book publisher Simon &
S&S wants at least $1.2 billion, while some
think a spirited auction could push the price
tag as high as $1.5 billion.
“We estimate the transaction value of Si-
mon and Schuster at approximately $1.5 bil-
lion based on approximately $150 million in
estimated 2020 Ebitda and a 10x valuation
multiple,” said Guggenheim Securities.
“Simon & Schuster is a prime asset with
one of the great catalogs in the history
of the book industry, so there is go-
ing to be real interest from strate-
gic buyers and potentially from
financial buyers,” added David
Steinberger, CEO of Arcadia
Publishing, and former CEO of
the Perseus Books Group.
Of course, the coronavirus crisis
that has raised fears of a economic
slowdown could also dampen the price.
“I’m a little skeptical of that [$1.5 billion
price] especially given what is going on the
market lately,” said David Novosel, a senior
analyst at Gimme Credit, who is expecting it
to sell closer to the 8 times EBITDA, which
was $147 million for S&S in 2019.
“It’s not been a great performer, but it pro-
vided a pretty steady cash flow,” conceded
Novosel, who noted its revenues only in-
creased modestly from $778 million in 2014 to
$814 million last year.
S&S counts a back list that includes literary
titans Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzger-

ald as well as more recent best-seller novelists
from the late Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen
King to non-fiction bestsellers including Do-
ris Kearns Goodwin and Hillary Clinton.
“I think the two most logical suitors are
Hachette and HarperCollins,” said one source.
Brian Murray, CEO of HarperCollins
(which like The Post is owned by News Corp)
admits he’s in the hunt. “HarperCollins has
been interested in gaining scale through or-
ganic growth and acquisitions of other com-
panies,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Any
time a publishing company is on the market,
we’d like to take a look.”
On the private equity side, one source
pointed to Henry Kravis’ KKR & Co. as a po-
tential bidder. The source noted that it would
round out KKR’s purchases of audio publisher
RB Media and e-book company OverDrive in
recent years.
ViacomCBS and Lion Tree declined to com-

Cuts at Cleveland paper

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the biggest
newspaper in Ohio, is in the process of axing
22 journalists from its already ravaged news-
room — the latest dramatic downsizing of a
major metro paper.
The paper is part of Advance Publications,
the media empire owned by the billionaire
Newhouse family that also owns Condé Nast.
The Plain Dealer News Guild blasted the
move as “union busting” claiming it will be
down to only 14 unionized editorial employ-
ees at the daily paper. In the mid-1990s, it said
there were still more than 340 people on the
editorial side of the paper.
“Today it is with a heavy heart that I an-
nounce another reduction in staff at the Plain
Dealer,” wrote Editor-in-Chief Tim Warsin-
skey on Monday. “March 23 we will notify 22
newsroom employees — 18 from the bargain-
ing unit represented by Local One of
the News Guild and four unrepre-
sented managers that we can no
longer continue their employ-
ment with us. The reason is
strictly financial.”

Fundraiser axed
The Kelly Gang Inc. (founded in
part by Media Ink’s Keith Kelly) has can-
celed its annual charity fundraiser which was set
to be held at Michael’s Restaurant on March 24
due to growing concerns on the coronavirus.
The organization still plans to make a dona-
tion to this year’s beneficiary, the Rory Staun-
ton Foundation for Sepsis Prevention, named
after a 12-year-old boy who perished in four
days after contracting sepsis from a fall in
gym back in 2012. His parents, Irish immi-
grants Ciaran and Orlaith Staunton, started
the foundation to lobby for changes to hospi-
tal protocol and to educate schools on the
dangers associated with sepsis, which kills
more than 250,000 annually. [email protected]

Suitors lining

up for S&S

Publisher is a ‘prime asset’

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