British publisher Pearson on Thursday said the US government would allow it to merge its Penguin book division with rival Random House, overcoming a key competition hurdle.
Pearson and Random’s parent, the German media giant Bertelsmann, announced in October plans to form a joint venture — Penguin Random House — or leading publisher of English-language books despite the popularity of ebook publishing.
Thursday’s statement said: “Pearson and Bertelsmann today announce that they have been notified by the US Department of Justice that it has closed its investigation into the proposed merger of Penguin and Random House, without conditions.”
The proposed merger remains under review by the European Commission, the Canadian Competition Bureau and various other antitrust authorities around the world, added Pearson, which also owns the Financial Times.
A deal would see Bertelsmann own 53 percent of the joint venture and Pearson 47 percent.
“Pearson and Bertelsmann continue to expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2013, after all necessary approvals have been received,” Thursday’s statement from Pearson added.
Random House has profited hugely in recent months from publishing EL James’ sado-masochistic romance “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which is enjoying massive global popularity.
Meanwhile demand for ebooks are gaining momentum among European readers, despite a late start compared to the United States.
In Britain, where Amazon launched its Kindle ebook reader in 2010, consumer ebook sales accounted for about 13 percent of combined print and electronic sales in the first half of 2012, according to The Publishers Association.