Penguin Random House CEO steps down weeks after judge blocked Simon & Schuster merger

Markus Dohle, Chief Executive Officer of Penguin Random House, pictured during Bertelsmann Annual Press Conference on March 22, 2016 in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Koehler | Photothek | Getty Images

Penguin Random House said Friday that CEO Markus Dohle will step down at the end of the year, weeks after the collapse of a deal to merge Penguin with Simon & Schuster.

Nihar Malaviya, Penguin’s president and operating chief, will step in as interim CEO while the publishing company finds Dohle’s permanent replacement.

“Following the antitrust decision in the U.S. against the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, I have decided, after nearly 15 years on the Executive Board of Bertelsmann and at the helm of our global publishing business, to hand over the next chapter of Penguin Random House to new leadership,” Dohle said in a press release.

A federal judge sided with the Justice Department and blocked Penguin’s $2.2 billion acquisition of Simon & Schuster in late October. The DOJ claimed that a merger of the industry-dominating publishers could “lessen competition” in the market.

Soon after the judge’s decision, Paramount Global, which owns Simon & Schuster, officially pulled the plug on the deal. Paramount noted that it would explore options to sell Simon & Schuster elsewhere.

Penguin disagreed with the DOJ’s ruling and had planned to appeal until Paramount subsequently backed out of the deal.

“We regret Markus Dohle’s decision to leave Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House,” said Christoph Mohn, chairman of Penguin parent Bertelsmann’s supervisory board. “He has sustainably focused Penguin Random House on growth and profitability. Under his leadership, our book division more than doubled its revenues and quintupled its profit.”

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