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Macmillan to pay $26 million to settle antitrust class action

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Publishing house Macmillan moved on Friday to settle a raft of antitrust suits accusing it of conspiring with other publishers to raise e-book prices, hammering out a $26 million settlement with a group of states and individuals, court filings show.

The agreement requires Macmillan to pay not only a $20 million fine, but legal fees and a small award as well to the individual plaintiffs for their participation.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote ordered government to file a motion of preliminary approval by May 24, a step toward completing the settlement, after the sides told her in a letter on Thursday that they had hammered out the terms of a deal.

"We are extremely pleased in resolving the claims of class members across the country in the e-book litigation and we think it was an extremely good result," said Jeff Friedman, a partner at Hagens Berman in San Francisco, who worked on the settlement on behalf of the plaintiffs.

"We also appreciated working very closely in the settlement with the state attorneys general in the action."

A lawyer for MacMillan declined to comment.

Macmillan is a unit of Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH, based in Germany. It announced in February that its plans to settle antitrust suits by the U.S. Justice Department and the class of plaintiffs.

Four of the five publishers named in the suits, including Pearson Plc's Penguin Group, News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers Inc and CBS Corp-owned Simon & Schuster Inc, have now settled.

The settlement with the government requires Macmillan to lift restrictions on discounting by e-book retailers and report to the Justice Department its communication with other publishers.

Apple is the only remaining defendant in the Justice Department's lawsuit, which was filed in April 2012 in U.S. District Court in New York.

The class action case is In Re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-02293.

(Reporting By Emily Flitter. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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