Bertelsmann, Europe’s largest media group, is planning a DM30 billion ($13.2 billion) spending spree, according to chief executive Thomas Middelhoff.

The funds will come in part from the sale of its shares in AOL and the flotation of its subsidiaries Lycos Europe and Pixelpark. The cash will be concentrated on expanding Bertelsmann’s music and internet retail interests.

The media giant will spend DM7 billion on e-commerce alone by 2003. Bertelsmann eCommerce Group, founded to oversee online operations, now aims to become the world’s largest internet retailer of books, CDs and DVDs within two years.

The recent purchase of music e-tailer CDnow for $117 million is part of this expansion. Michael Krupit, formally chief operating officer at CDnow, has now been named president-ceo.

News source: Financial Times and Advertising Age - Interactive Daily