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U.S. OKs Penguin-Random House merger

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
February 15, 2013 -- Updated 0151 GMT (0951 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Antitrust lawyers end investigation of Penguin-Random House merger
  • Combined company would be the world's biggest book publisher, parent companies say
  • Parent companies still need approval from European Commission

(CNN) -- Antitrust lawyers at the Justice Department Thursday paved the way for the proposed merger of publishers Random House and Penguin, which would create the biggest book publisher in the world, according to the parent companies.

By closing the investigation without comment, the Justice officials effectively approved the merger. Random House is owned by the German media firm Bertelsmann. Penguin is owned by the British firm Pearson.

The firms still have to get the approval of the European Commission.

When Bertelsmann and Pearson announced plans to merge last year, they said they would control about 25 percent of the English-language book market. The two firms said they hope the larger scale will help them profit from the growth of e-books and that they will be better able to negotiate with giant book distributors Amazon, Apple and Google.

The joint company would be called Penguin Random House, according to an October statement from Bertelsmann announcing the merger.

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