The proposed merger of Random House and Penguin has cleared the European hurdle. Even though the new entity will control about one-fourth of the market, the EU said strong competition will keep it in check.
The European Commission gave its approval on Friday to the proposed Penguin Random House book company, putting it one step closer to becoming the largest publishing business in the world.
The 2.4 billion-pound (3.68 billion euros, $3.65 billion) deal would merge Random House's German parent company, Bertelsmann SE, and Penguin - which is a division of Britain's Pearson PLC - lumping their shares together to control about one quarter of the world's consumer book market.
Both divisions currently have strong sellers, such as George Orwell's classic "1984" under Penguin and the international bestseller "Shades of Grey" by E.L. James under Random House.
Bertelsmann and Pearson together "[would] not raise competition concerns, in particular because the merged entity will continue to face several strong competitors," the European Commission said in a statement.
Bertelsmann SE said the EU's decision was "another important stage" toward completing the merger, which has been projected for the second half of 2013.
The proposed Penguin Random House would include their publishing units in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa, as well as in China and Latin America.
Bertlesmann and Pearson announced their plan to form a publishing powerhouse in October in a bid to fortify themselves against Amazon.com.
Other companies must agree with the EU and US approval before the merger can proceed.
kms/jr (AP, AFP, dpa)