Is Penguin Abandoning Apple?

In a move to settle an antitrust investigation by EU regulators, book publisher Penguin has offered to void a deal with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that forced price limits on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and other e-book retailers. If Penguin’s offer is accepted by the European Commission’s regulators, it would end a 16-month investigation into Penguin’s anticompetitive practices in the e-book market. Penguin is a division of Pearson (NYSE:PSO), a London-based multinational publishing and education company.

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The allegations of anticompetitive price restrictions were based on price deals that Penguin and other publishers had imposed in order to artificially raise retail e-book prices. The alleged conspiracy was mostly directed at Amazon, which offered substantial price discounting on its e-books. Part of the settlement would involve allowing retailers to set prices for a two-year period, reports Reuters.

The other five publishers targeted in the probe have already settled. Penguin’s price-fixing co-conspirators included Apple; Simon & Schuster; Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Livre; HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C.; Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC (doing business as Macmillan). According to Reuters, Pearson’s Penguin is currently in the process of joining Random House, a unit of German media group Bertelsmann…

The U.S. Department of Justice initiated its own antitrust investigation of the same publishers in 2012. In that lawsuit, the Department of Justice alleged that the conspiracy started as a way to challenge Amazon’s dominance of the e-book market through its popular Kindle device and its strategy of selling newly released e-books for $9.99.

Apple is the only defendant which hasn’t yet settled in that case.

Apple shares rose 0.76 percent to $395.02 in midday Friday trading.

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