Why News Corp Is Buying Harlequin For $415 Million (Hint: Not Because Rupert Murdoch Really Likes Fabio)
If you're looking for fans of romance novels, you'd probably wouldn't find business mogul Rupert Murdoch on top of the list. Weirdly enough, Murdoch's company is certainly interested: Friday brought the announcement that News Corp is buying Harlequin Enterprises for $415 million. Canadian company Torstar is selling the publisher to HarperCollins, which is owned by the global media firm. Harlequin is best known for its romance novels, boasting categories like "Blaze," "Desire," "Heartwarming," and "Kiss."
The steamy stories are sold in over 100 international markets and 34 languages, and clearly News Corp sees the potential. Oddly, Harlequin is a "perfect fit for the new News Corp," Chief Executive Robert Thomson said in a statement. The acquisition is expected to help expand the company's worldwide growth.
The aim is to "bring the book-reading public more choices," according to president and CEO of HarperCollins, Brian Murray. HarperCollins already has some racy titles under its Avon Romance division, but the latest buy brings hope of boosted earnings. It's also News Corp's biggest purchase since its breakup — in June 2013, its television and film assets were grouped into a new company, 21st Century Fox, while its newspapers and other assets formed News Corp.
So, are sexy novels the solution to saving face for the international media company? We doubt it. Check out these covers...
News Corp reported a dip in second quarter earnings for 2014, with indication that some big changes are on the way. But why Harlequin? The publisher has seen a decline in sales over the past four years, but it was actually HarperCollins that approached owner Torstar on the sell. In short, the Canadians needed the cash and News Corp sought to make a profit in the long run, since Harlequin is said to be the world’s largest romance publisher.
It's apparent Murdoch's company is in transition and with the latest buy, might just be grasping at straws to maintain a foothold in the ever-changing media world filled with declining print papers. The acquisition of Harlequin follows on the heels of News Corp's $25 million buy of Storyful, helping its news organizations track breaking-news and monitor social media. But Harlequin has some digital offerings too, with e-books including "A Very Personal Assistant," and "The Devilish Duke."