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Penguin Random House merger completed; Coyne appointed Asia Pacific CEO

The merger of two of the world’s largest publishing companies, Penguin and Random House, has been completed.

Random House parent company Bertelsmann said in a statement this week that it signed the final contracts with Penguin parent company Pearson on 1 July, creating a new company called Penguin Random House. As previously reported by Books+Publishing, Bertelsmann will own 53% of the new company and Pearson will own 47%. The new company includes all of the Random House and Penguin divisions and imprints in the US, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and India, as well as Random House’s operations in Spain and Latin America and Penguin’s operations in Asia and South Africa.

Random House chairman and CEO Markus Dohle has been appointed as CEO of the new company, as well as CEO of Penguin Random House US. Penguin CEO John Makinson has stepped down from the board of Pearson to take on the role of chairman of the Penguin Random House’s board of directors.

Gabrielle Coyne, previously CEO of Penguin Asia Pacific, has been appointed as CEO of Penguin Random House Asia Pacific. Coyne will report to Ian Hudson, previously deputy CEO of Random House UK, who takes on the role of CEO of Penguin Random House International, overseeing operations in Australia, New Zealand, India, South Africa and Asia, as well as the position of deputy CEO of Penguin Random House UK.

A spokesperson for Penguin Australia told Books+Publishing that there are no other local staff changes at either Penguin or Random House at this time, and that Andrew Davis and Karen Ferns will continue in their positions of joint managing directors of Random House Australia and New Zealand. There is also ‘no change in office, location or distribution’ at either publisher ‘at this time’.

Former CEO of the Penguin Group UK Tom Weldon has been appointed as CEO of Penguin Random House UK, while former Random House UK CEO Gail Rebuck will become chair of the Penguin Random House UK board.

Joining Dohle and Markinson on the board from Bertelsmann are: Thomas Rabe, chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann; Judith Hartmann, chief financial officer of Bertelsmann; Thomas Hesse, president of corporate development and new businesses at Bertelsmann; and Rebuck, who is also a member of the Bertelsmann Group management committee. Pearson’s other appointees to the board are: John Fallon, CEO of Pearson; Coram Williams, chief financial officer of Penguin Random House; and Philip Hoffman, senior vice president of corporate finance and strategy for Pearson.

Bertelsmann said the Penguin Random House headquarters will be in New York and the new company will employ more than 10,000 people worldwide. Annual revenues for the group are expected to total approximately €3 billion (approximately A$4.3 billion). The company’s share of the Australian market is estimated to be approximately 27%.

Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle described the merger of the two publishers as a ‘historic union’. ‘We are uniting two of the world’s leading book publishers, with complementary skills and strengths, both with outstanding creative and commercial track records, with a passion for publishing the best books, and with two strong traditions from which the new company will develop its own culture—in the best interests of the readers, who will benefit from the quality and enormous variety of books we will publish.’

Bertelsmann chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe also highlighted the historical significance of the merger, saying that Bertelsmann and Pearson ‘have set a great course for the future of the book, and book publishing’ by combining Random House and Penguin. ‘Together, we can and will invest on a much larger scale than separately in diverse content, author development and support, the publishing talent, the entire spectrum of physical and digital book acquisitions, production, marketing, and distribution, and also in fast-growing markets of the future,’ said Rabe.

As previously reported by Books+Publishing, the merger was approved by regulators in China in June, following similar approvals in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the European Union. The companies announced their intentions to merge in October 2012.