Bertelsmann to buy U.S. publisher Random House

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GUTERSLOH -- Bertelsmann, the world's third biggest media group, announced March 23 it will acquire New York-based Random House Inc. from Advance Publications. The announcement was made by Chairman/CEO Mark Woessner.

Random House is the world's largest English-language general interest trade book publisher. Bertelsmann already has a presence among U.S. book publishers: it owns Bantam and Doubleday.

Bertelsmann's new publishing company - comprising all publishing divisions and imprints of Random House, Bantam Doubleday Dell and its affiliated companies and sub sidiaries in Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - will come under the Random House Inc. umbrella. How ever, the various publishing divisions and imprints will retain full editorial indepen dence and publishing autonomy.

Terms of the agreement between Bertelsmann and Advance Publications, both privately held, were not made public. The final acquisition is slated for mid-year, subject to regulatory approval.

Peter Olson, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann Book Group North America, will become chairman and CEO of Random House Inc. World wide. Alberto Vitale, who will remain chair man and CEO of Random House until the deal has closed, has agreed to continue with the new company as chairman of its newly created supervisory board. This board will include top-level Random House, Bantam Doubleday Dell and Bertelsmann executives such as Thomas Middelhoff, Bertelsmann's CEO designate.

Frank Woessner, CEO of the Bertelsmann Book Group, says: "It is thrilling to have the opportunity to bring Random House, whose name is recognized around the world for publishing excellence, into our family to create a company bearing its name that will be the leadership standard for 21st-century book publishing."

Advance Publications plans to focus its efforts on its core business of newspapers, magazines, business journals and cable TV.

Copyright March 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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