Penguin Random House UK appoints Peacock as first group legal director

Newly-merged book publishing company Penguin Random House has appointed Penguin Books’ HR and legal director Helena Peacock to the new role of group legal director in the UK.

helena peacock penguin random house
Helena Peacock

Peacock takes up her role with immediate effect, following over 20 years at Penguin. She has been HR and legal director since 2006.

She will head up a team of 13 legal staff and 24 focused on contracts.

The appointment follows the recent merger of Penguin and Random House by parent companies Pearson and Bertelsmann (29 October 2012). The merger took effect on 1 July this year.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised Penguin’s owner Pearson on the deal, while Slaughter and May acted for Random House owner Bertelsmann. Morgan Lewis and Davis Polk gave US advice.

Bertelsmann owns a 53 per cent stake in the combined business and Pearson 47 per cent. The two companies publish arond the world, and Peacock will lead the combined business’s legal and contracts team in the UK, Asia-Pacific, India and South Africa. She will report to Ian Hudson, who is deputy CEO of Penguin Random House UK and also CEO of Penguin Random House International.

During her time at Penguin, Peacock has advised on corporate and contentious issues, including winning the notorious libel trial brought by historian David Irving against Penguin (17 April 2000).

Hudson said Peacock’s contribution to Penguin had been “extraordinary”, adding in a statement: ”She exudes integrity and fairness, and her work ethic, commitment and sense of decency have been a role model for hundreds of colleagues.”

For more on Helena Peacock, read our 2001 profile, A novel approach.