ViacomCBS has received 25 inbound inquiries about buying Simon & Schuster since CEO Bob Bakish signaled plans to sell the storied publisher at a media conference in late February.
The coronavirus was already top of mind then for many companies then and Bakish had indicated a sale might have to wait until things settled. “As this market stabilizes, we are going to engage in a process and look at strategic alternatives for Simon & Schuster,” he said.
The company continues to prepare the division for a potential sale, the person said.
Viacom declined to comment.
ViacomCBS is seeking to exit non-strategic businesses and build up cash to invest in content, streaming and other areas of focus.
The publisher is not a core asset, Bakish said at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, and as ViacomCBS restructures post-merger he had received “multiple, unsolicited inbound calls” expressing interest.
Simon & Schuster, founded in 1924, was acquired by Viacom in the ’90s when it bought Paramount Communications. It moved to CBS when Viacom and CBS split in 2006 and came back to the fold of a combined company in the merger that closed last December. It publishes 2,000 titles a year from authors from Stephen King to Doris Kearns Goodwin.
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