EU to decide on Bertelsmann, Pearson publisher deal by April 5

BRUSSELS Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:07am EST

BRUSSELS Feb 27 (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will decide by April 5 whether to clear plans by Germany's Bertelsmann and Britain's Pearson to merge their publishers Random House and Penguin.

Europe's largest media company Bertelsmann, owner of Random House, and Pearson, which owns the Financial Times as well as Penguin, filed for EU approval of their proposed joint venture on Tuesday, the European Commission said on its website on Wednesday.

The deal, unveiled in October, aims to strengthen the companies' bargaining power against Amazon and Apple , especially in the fast-growing e-book market.

The merged company, to be named Penguin Random House, will bring under one roof fantasy novelist Terry Pratchett, "Fifty Shades of Grey" author E.L. James and 2012 Nobel prize winner Mo Yan.

Some antitrust experts say the deal may attract close regulatory scrutiny because of evolving industry trends.

But others disagree, saying that the two publishers have different geographic presences, with Random House strong in Britain and the United States while Penguin is strong in fast-growing developing markets.