McKinsey & Co is said to be acting as interlocutor in talks about a tentative partial merger between Reader’s Digest Association and Bertelsmann AG of Germany.

Discussions center around the possible melding of the duo’s huge database marketing operations, bookclubs and – less probably, so insiders believe – magazine businesses, including the iconic Reader’s Digest itself.

The discussions are purely exploratory at this stage and internal leaks suggest that the duo will decide within “a few weeks” whether to continue negotiations on a more serious basis.

The ailing Digest has mulled merger before in the hope of arresting its decline. Last year it was in abortive talks with Time Warner. Bertelsmann, on the other hand, is in particularly bullish mode in the US, having last year merged its bookclub operations with those of Time Warner and – more recently – agreed to buy internet music retailer CDnow.

News source: Wall Street Journal