LONDON -- British media company Pearson PLC is teaming up with a U.S. investment firm to bid $4 billion for part of the publishing house Simon & Schuster, a source said today.
Pearson is interested in acquiring the educational publishing operations of Simon & Schuster, which could be combined with Pearson's Addison Wesley Longman educational publishing division, said the source, who is familiar with the offer.
The Dallas-based takeover specialist Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst has teamed up with Pearson and would stand to get Simon & Schuster's professional and reference publishing divisions, the source said. The source spoke to The Associated Press only on condition of anonymity.
The Financial Times and The New York Times reported today that several bids had been made for Simon & Schuster, but they apparently only apply to portions of the publisher that corporate parent Viacom Inc. has put on the market.
The newspaper stories, which did not identify sources, indicated that bids also came from buyout specialists Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and magazine publisher Primedia, and Knowledge Universe, a company owned by Oracle chairman Larry Ellison and former junk bond king Michael Milken.
Viacom spokeswoman Karen Zatorski would not comment on the reports, saying the "sale is on track but we have nothing to announce."
Viacom announced earlier this year that it would sell the educational, professional and reference businesses of Simon & Schuster to focus on faster-growing entertainment businesses.
Viacom said it would keep Simon & Schuster's consumer publishing business -- and Katorski said today that was still the company's intention.
Pearson and Dallas-based Hicks, Muse had reportedly been considering separate bids before they decided to team up on an offer that was presented Wednesday to the investment bank Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which is handling the sale for Viacom.
Pearson declined comment. Hicks, Muse did not immediately return phone calls.
An announcement on the winning bidder could come as soon as Monday, said the Financial Times, which is owned by Pearson.
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