News Corp. to Buy Houghton Mifflin Unit for $349 Million

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. agreed to buy the consumer arm of educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Co. for $349 million, the media company’s second publishing acquisition in less than a week.

The all-cash purchase of the Houghton Mifflin unit gives News Corp. access to high-profile novels from authors including George Orwell and J.R.R. Tolkien. The New York media giant said March 25 that it had agreed to buy Investor’s Business Daily for $275 million.

News Corp. touted the addition of Houghton Mifflin’s extensive backlist of titles to the company’s HarperCollins publishing unit in a statement Monday. “Backlists have proven to be a sustainable and growing source of revenues, high margins and cash flow for publishers, particularly evergreen properties with broad, enduring and global appeal,” News Corp. said.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media, as the consumer division is known, had net sales of $191.7 million and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $26.6 million in 2020, News Corp. said.

For its part, Houghton Mifflin said the unit sale would allow the remaining company to “focus singularly on K-12 education and accelerate growth momentum in digital sales, annual recurring revenue and free cash flow while paying down a significant portion of its debt.”

Houghton Mifflin’s shares soared as much as 22% to $7.28 in New York trading Monday. They had risen about 80% this year through March 26, giving the Boston-based company a stock-market value of about $762 million.

Dow Jones reported Sunday that the deal was imminent.

Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with News Corp. and IBD in providing financial data and information. News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones & Co.

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