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Rupert Murdoch's spring romance: News Corp. buys Harlequin books

BookRupert MurdochNews Corp.Printing ServiceWendi DengTorstar Corporation
News Corp. is getting into the romance novel business with purchase of Harlequin Enterprises
Harlequin Enterprises will be folded into HarperCollins, News Corp.'s book publishing unit
Rupert Murdoch: unlucky in love, lucky in romance novels?

Even a brutal year in the love department hasn't shaken Rupert Murdoch's belief in romance.

The billionaire mogul's publishing company News Corp. on Friday said that it has agreed to purchase Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. for about $415 million in cash.

Harlequin, the world's leading publisher of bodice-ripping romance novels, will be folded into News Corp.'s book publishing unit, HarperCollins. Harlequin will remain headquartered in Toronto.

Last year, Murdoch divorced his third wife, Wendi Deng, 45, amid allegations of her infidelity. 

The 83-year-old press baron met the Chinese-born Deng during a business trip in 1997 to News Corp.'s offices in Hong Kong. They were married 14 years and have two young daughters.

Harlequin, for its part, is quite prolific. It publishes the work of more than 1,300 writers and churns out more than 110 titles monthly. 

About 40% of Harlequin's annual revenue (last year the company generated about $370 million in sales) comes from books published in languages other than English.

In contrast, nearly all of the HarperCollins books are published in English. The publishing house wants to expand its distribution to other markets.

News Corp. said the deal will help accelerate both companies migration to digital books. HarperCollins has seen steady growth in recent years in the publication of books tailored for electronic tablets.

“Harlequin is a perfect fit for the new News Corp., vastly expanding our digital platform, extending our reach across borders and languages, and is expected to provide an immediate lift to earnings,” Robert Thomson, News Corp.'s chief executive, said in a statement.

“Harlequin has a devoted audience around the globe and an empathetic insight into contemporary cultures, which is itself a remarkable resource," Thomson added.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval and a vote by Torstar's Class A shareholders. The transaction is expected to be finalized by September -- the end of the summer reading season.

“This transaction will allow Harlequin to continue to operate as a distinct and successful brand within a larger publishing company," said Craig Swinwood, publisher and chief executive of Harlequin.

"We're excited to be able to take full advantage of HarperCollins’ robust resources, scale and capabilities to expand the reach of our books and grow our business," Swinwood said.

ALSO:

Rupert Murdoch files for divorce from Wendi Deng

Rupert Murdoch positions sons Lachlan, James for succession

Rupert Murdoch finalizing divorce; Wendi Deng keeps NY apartment

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

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BookRupert MurdochNews Corp.Printing ServiceWendi DengTorstar Corporation
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