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News Corp. to buy Harlequin

Romance publisher joins Murdoch empire.

NEW YORK - News Corp. sees profit potential in the tales of posh princes, sexy soldiers, and mysterious millionaires.

The publishing company controlled by Rupert Murdoch said Friday that it had agreed to buy romance novel publisher Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corp. for $455 million Canadian ($415 million U.S.) in cash.

Harlequin will become a division of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers and remain based in Toronto.

Founded in 1949, Harlequin publishes its steamy tales in 34 languages and sells them in more than 100 countries. Its titles include the works of more than 1,300 authors. and it releases more than 110 titles each month.

News Corp. said the deal would extend HarperCollins' global reach, especially in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

About 40 percent of Harlequin's revenue comes from books published in languages other than English. Currently, 99 percent of HarperCollins books are published in English.

The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the third quarter, remains subject to regulatory approvals and the approval of Torstar's Class A shareholders. News Corp. expects the addition to boost its profits and improve its free cash flow.

For 2013, Harlequin's revenue totaled $372 million. About 95 percent of its revenue comes from outside Canada.