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FTC OK’s Random House sale

Bertelsmann to buy Advance book co. for $1 bil plus

Federal antitrust authorities have cleared the way for German media conglomerate Bertelsmann to acquire the largest U.S. book publisher, Random House, Bertelsmann said Sunday.

The Federal Trade Commission “has raised no objections” to Bertelsmann’s bid to buy Random House, according to a statement released by the company in New York. The deal should close by midsummer, the statement said.

A group of authors objected to the merger, saying it would create a “new economic behemoth” with the potential to restrict readers’ choices and authors’ ability to market their works. Bertelsmann claimed Random House would retain its editorial independence.

Bertelsmann, the world’s third-largest media and entertainment company after Time Warner Inc. and Walt Disney Co., has been expanding its English-language publishing biz since buying Bantam Books in 1977. It already owns Doubleday, Dell-Delacorte and Broadway Books. Those will be combined with the Random House and its Knopf, Crown and Ballantine imprints under the Random House name.

Random House is being sold by Advance Publications Inc., which wants to focus on its main biz of newspapers, magazines, business journals and cable TV.

Neither company has said how much Bertelsmann is paying,but the price has been estimated to be $1.1 billion-$1.6 billion.