Wholesaler consolidation would require agreement of US competition authority
The Ingram Content Group has made a tentative offer to buy the retail wholesaling operation of Baker & Taylor, Publishers Weekly is reporting, with the Federal Trade Commission has launching what it is calling "very preliminary investigation" of the proposed deal, sources told PW. News of the FTC investigation was broken by Shelf Awareness yesterday morning; the Ingram bid was apparently tabled about a month ago.
The logic for the deal is that Follett bought Baker & Taylor in 2016 mainly for its library business, which has long been the company’s strength and has better margins than B&T’s retail business; Ingram meanwhile, though expanding its library business, has been stronger on the retail side.
The initial view of US observers is that the FTC will approve the deal. While the number of wholesalers has shrunk in recent years, publishers have increased their own distribution efforts, with stores buying more books directly from publishers than years ago.
Ingram and B&T issued similiar statements in repsonse to reports of a possible deal. "At Ingram, we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers and strengthen our business. As a privately held company we simply do not comment on market speculation." Baker & Taylor said: "As a private company, we don't comment on rumors and speculation in the marketplace. What I can share is that we are squarely focused on delivering the very best service to all of our customers."