Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle Exits Following Collapse of Simon & Schuster Buyout

Markus Dohle has resigned as CEO of Penguin Random House, just weeks after a federal judge blocked the publisher’s planned acquisition of rival Simon & Schuster.

Nihar Malaviya, 48, will serve as interim CEO as of Jan. 1, according to multiple reports. The current president and COO of Penguin Random House U.S., Malaviya led the integration of Penguin and Random House when the two companies merged in 2013.

“Following the antitrust decision in the U.S. against the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, I have decided — after 15 years as CEO of Random House, which became Penguin Random House — to hand over the next chapter of our global publishing business to new leadership,” Dohle, 54, said a statement released by closely held German media company Bertelsmann SE, Penguin’s parent company. Dohle took the helm at Random House in 2008.

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Dohle is also resigning his seat on Bertelsmann’s executive board. His departure was made at “his own request and on the best of mutual terms,” the Bertelsmann announcement said.

Malaviya joined Bertelsmann in 2001 following a career on Wall Street, and moved to Random House as a senior vice president two years later, his company biography states. He is best known for providing market context and data insights for the creative side of the business, the Journal reported.

“As a young boy growing up in India, I regularly walked 45 minutes to our local library and read each and every book in the children’s section,” Malaviya said in a memo to staffers, according to the Journal.

Bertelsmann told the outlet that under Dohle’s leadership, its book division more than doubled its revenues and quintupled its profit. Among its long string of successes are the current bestselling nonfiction book, Michelle Obama’s “The Light We Carry.”

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But Dohle’s exit comes at an ignominious moment, after the $2.2 billion deal to buy Simon & Schuster collapsed in the face of regulatory scrutiny.

Bertelsmann struck the deal to buy Simon & Schuster from Paramount Global in November 2020. Dohle at that time said he was confident the merger would succeed, given new entrants into the publishing market.

But the Justice Department saw the deal differently, filing suit to block it in November 2021, arguing that the combination “would give Penguin Random House outsized influence over who and what is published, and how much authors are paid for their work.” The suit made the case that the deal would be not only harmful to consumers, but to authors as well, by reducing the amount writers would be paid and making it harder to earn a living writing books.

Dohle testified in court last summer that the merger would benefit consumers and authors.

U.S. District Judge Florence Pan ruled with the Justice Department on Oct. 31 and blocked the merger.

Penguin Random House hoped to appeal the ruling, but its efforts to convince Paramount Global to back an appeal failed. Penguin was left owing Paramount Global a $200 million termination fee.

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