25 pc of Bertelsmann media group up for sale

27th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

27 January 2006, GUETERSLOH, GERMANY - One quarter of Europe's biggest media conglomerate, Bertelsmann, is to be offered to investors as soon as market conditions are right, the Belgian owner of the stake, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL), said Friday.

27 January 2006

GUETERSLOH, GERMANY - One quarter of Europe's biggest media conglomerate, Bertelsmann, is to be offered to investors as soon as market conditions are right, the Belgian owner of the stake, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL), said Friday.

Bertelsmann, the company behind many of the world's top brands in music, TV, books and magazines, has until now been closely controlled by the Mohn family of Germany and GBL, with no shares traded.

GBL said in Brussels that under an agreement with the other proprietors, it could not sell before May this year. GBL obtained the 25.1-per-cent stake in 2001 when it took over RTL Group, a Luxembourg-domiciled commercial broadcaster in Germany and France.

Albert Frere, the investor who owns GBL, insisted that the stake ultimately be floated by way of an initial public offering.

The other proprietors of Bertelsmann AG show no sign of selling. Reinhard Mohn and his family own 17.3 per cent and the Bertelsmann Foundation, which is under the influence of the family, owns 57.6 per cent.

Among Bertelsmann's properties are RTL, which is the biggest commercial TV operation in Germany, half of Sony BMG, which is one of the world's biggest popular music labels, and Random House, the world's biggest book publishing group.

Bertelsmann also publishes magazines and invests in films.

Gunter Thielen, chief executive of Bertelsmann, responded calmly to the announcement Friday, saying, "We have been intensively preparing for this for years." He said precautions had included reforms to Bertelsmann's accounting to meet stock-trading rules.

Mohn's wife Liz, as spokeswoman for the family, has repeatedly said there are no plans to put any of their shares on the market.

In a related development, it was reported that Germany's other main commercial broadcaster, ProSiebenSat.1, was back on the market.

A newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, said key shareholder Haim Saban had allowed other potential buyers to conduct due-diligence inspections of its accounts after a bid by German newspaper group Axel Springer met disapproval from German competition authorities.

DPA

Subject: German news

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