UPDATE 4-News Corp ties knot with romance novel publisher

Fri May 2, 2014 3:23pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha and Jennifer Saba

TORONTO/NEW YORK May 2 (Reuters) - For Harlequin Enterprises Ltd, the romance novel publisher that News Corp agreed to buy for $415 million, the title of one of its latest offerings, "My Fair Billionaire," could well refer to Rupert Murdoch.

Murdoch's News Corp said on Friday it would purchase Harlequin from Torstar Corp, owner of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest daily newspaper by circulation.

With backing of the billionaire's global empire, the deal will give a more secure financial footing to Harlequin - known for churning out more than a thousand "bodice ripper" books every year, with titles like "A Game of Seduction" and "The Heartbreaker Prince."

The C$455 million purchase is News Corp's largest since its assets were split off last year from its cable, TV and movie studio properties, now known as 21st Century Fox Inc

News Corp will pick up a dusty book company, albeit one with global and digital distribution that News Corp plans to use to extend its footprint. Harlequin, to become a unit of News Corp's HarperCollins book publishing subsidiary, gets about 40 percent of its revenue from e-book sales in North America and about 20 percent outside the region. Worldwide, HarperCollins generates about 20 percent of its revenue from digital sales.

Torstar shares surged 17.7 percent on Friday.

News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson said it was quicker and cheaper to buy Harlequin than to build a distribution and digital platform.   Continued...