German media giant Bertelsmann is trying to buy the 11% stake it does not already own in European broadcast company RTL Group, owner of Britain’s Channel 5 among others.
Bertelsmann has made an offer of E44 per share for the extant stock, listed on several European bourses. RTL said it would mull over the bid: “The board of RTL Group is considering the position in consultation with its independent financial advisers.
“Bertelsmann has announced that with its financial advisers it is taking the necessary steps to be in a position to commence such an offer at E44 by early February 2002.”
The move follows Bertelsmann’s purchase over Christmas of the 22% stake in RTL held by British media group Pearson [WAMN: 27-Dec-01], again for E44 per share. The German conglomerate is eager to assume full control of its units as it prepares to float on the stock market during the next three years.
RTL, meanwhile, is said to be in talks to buy Dutch television production company Endemol Entertainment, the group that spawned reality TV concept Big Brother.
However, it is thought that no price has been agreed for Endemol, currently owned by Spanish telecoms titan Telefonica, and RTL admitted no solution was yet apparent.
Telefonica currently has a broad worldwide partnership with Bertelsmann relating to media and technology. In fact, Endemol already supplies TV shows to RTL, one of its biggest customers.
The bid to buy the Dutch group may reflect Bertelsmann’s push to bolster its television business, which produces 20% of its group sales revenue. However, the purchase of Endemol may raise antitrust concerns, as RTL is already a major European TV production group with operations in 21 nations.
News sources: MediaGuardian.co.uk; Handelsblatt (Germany)