Bertelsmann Keeps Investor Guessing over IPO Plan

24 March 2006

Europe's largest media group Bertelsmann is still mulling the implications of a possible flotation next year.

Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, a significant minority shareholder, has flagged its desire for an IPO of its 25.1% stake in the family-controlled conglomerate [WAMN: 31-Jan-06].

The ruling Mohn dynasty has the option of reluctantly agreeing the move or buying out the GBL shareholding for around €5 billion ($6.03bn; £3.46bn).

However, ceo Gunter Thielen, speaking after the German-headquartered company reported a slippage in 2005 profit from €1.17bn to €1.04bn the year before, said he could not imagine selling off its magazine unit Gruner + Jahr or book publisher Random House to fund a GBL buy-out.

Tellingly, Thielen remained zip-lipped about Bertelsmann's possible disposal of its 50% stake in the troubled Sony BMG venture.

He avers that the company is "prepared" and does not have "any problem" with GBL's plans, adding: "Whether we are publicly listed or not, what determines our work on the executive board is that we define the right long-term strategy and strengthen our core businesses."

GBL is expected to make an announcement about its intentions by May.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff