Bertelsmann Confounds Pundits: IPO Still On Course

03 September 2002

Investment pundits, entrail-rakers and on-message business journalists all agreed. Following the boardroom putsch that deposed Bertelsmann chief executive Thomas Middelhoff in July, the ousted ceo’s dream of an initial public offering was as dead as the dodo. Kaput, done for, out for the count.

Um, not quite.

Middelhoff’s successor Gûnther Thielen on Monday confounded all the clairvoyants. “We will do what we have said we would,” he told the Financial Times. “We will prepare the group for an IPO.”

This would be scheduled for 2005 – although there are two potential flies in the ointment. Firstly, the media giant’s controlling Mohn family are adamant that they will not dilute their 75% stake.

And secondly, the flotation needs the green light from Belgian financier Albert Frere whose Groupe Bruxelles Lambert is entitled to float the 25.1% stake in Bertelsmann it received last year in exchange for shares in broadcasting unit RTL Group.

No flowers by request.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff