Bertelsmann triples profit; Eyes purchases

MUMBAI: The German giant is roaring! Bertelsmann is eyeing acquisitions after its music and TV units helped triple half-year profits, more prominent being Bill Clinton's memoirs and top music acts. 

According to media reports, Bertelsmann chief executive Gunter Thielen said that he was ready to use his group's  $ 2bn (?1.36bn) war chest to invest in growth. Although Thielen declined to comment, it is said that Bertelsmann is looking for acquisitions including part of the British Broadcasting Corporation Worldwide.

But the media reports indicate that BBC has talked to the German group and its bigger US rivals Time Warner and Disney about a possible sale of its BBC Worldwide unit, which owns assets such as magazines and stakes in TV channels.

The world's fourth largest media group, after years of declining sales at the group, saw the revenues at its music unit BMG and television arm RTL Group rise strongly, while cost cuts across the group also helped earnings, says a company statement.

"Bertelsmann is steadily increasing its scope for investments to strengthen our core businesses and expand in new growth markets. We will pursue appropriate opportunities when they become available." Thielen is reported to have said in a statement.

"The BMG music division's recorded music triumphs and RTL Group's excellent business performance made an essential contribution to this rise in earnings," he added.

Strong sales and earnings growth at television broadcaster RTL and music unit BMG helped Bertelsmann, owned by the founder's family and a Belgian investor, to post operating earnings of  596m in the six months to June, up from  186m a year ago, the reports inform.

Former United States president Bill Clinton's My Life and music acts, including rapper Usher and singer Dido, helped sales increase 3.2 per cent to  $ 8.1bn after years of decline. Adjusted for currency effects and portfolio changes, they rose 4 per cent. Cost cuts across the group also helped.

It sold a science publishing unit in 2003 and has consolidated TV station M6 since February.

Bertelsmann's music division BMG, which last month merged with Japanese electronic giant Sony's Sony Music, had 74 million euros in earnings, up from a loss last year, as sales rose by 10 per cent despite the still weak global music market, say the reports.

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