Murdoch's News Corp. to Buy Harlequin Books for $415 Million

40% of Harlequin Revenue Comes From Books Published in Languages Other Than English

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A Harlequin book, now part of the News Corp. empire.
A Harlequin book, now part of the News Corp. empire.

Rupert Murdoch is doubling down on romance.

News Corp. is buying Harlequin Enterprises, a publisher of such titles as "Destiny's Last Bachelor" and "The Heartbreaker Prince," for C$455 million ($415 million) in cash, according to a statement today. Murdoch is purchasing Harlequin from Canada's Torstar Corp. and will fold it into News Corp.'s HarperCollins publishing unit, which has an imprint called Avon Romance.

Harlequin, founded in 1949, publishes more than 1,300 authors and releases more than 110 titles monthly. With novels issued in 34 languages, the company also gives News Corp. access to an international audience of readers.

"Approximately 40% of Harlequin's revenues come from books published in languages other than English," News Corp. said in the statement. "Currently, 99% of HarperCollins books are published in English."

Book publishing accounted for 15% of New York-based News Corp.'s $8.89 billion in revenue last year. News Corp. split off from 21st Century Fox in June, creating a new business focused mostly on publishing -- without the shelter of more lucrative TV and movie businesses. The split was carefully arranged to leave the new News Corp. without debt and in a position to make acquisitions -- as opposed to, say, Time Inc., which Time Warner plans to spin off this year with more than $1 billion in debt.

"Harlequin is a perfect fit for the new News Corp, vastly expanding our digital platform, extending our reach across borders and languages, and is expected to provide an immediate lift to earnings," said Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp.

HarperCollins publishes authors including Paulo Coelho, author of "The Alchemist," and Cokie Roberts, who wrote "Founding Mothers."

Harlequin had revenue of C$398 million last year and has more than 1,000 employees worldwide, including more than 350 in Canada.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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