Bertelsmann 2011 Profit Declines on Weaker Print Operations

Bertelsmann AG, Europe’s biggest media company, said operating profit fell last year, hurt by

“weak business performance” of operations such as printing.

Operating earnings before interest and taxes declined to 1.7 billion euros ($2.3 billion) from 1.8 billion euros in the previous year, the Guetersloh, Germany-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Sales from continuing operations rose to 15.3 billion euros from 15.1 billion euros.

Chief Executive Officer Thomas Rabe, who took office Jan. 1, aims to grow Bertelsmann in emerging markets such as India and China as well as add to sales in digital publishing and e-commerce. Gerhard Zeiler, the CEO of Bertelsmann’s biggest and most profitable unit RTL Group SA, will leave for Time Warner Inc. in April and be replaced by Anke Schaeferkordt and Guillaume de Posch as new co-CEOs, the unit said this week.

Profit was also affected by the cost in new growth areas as well as by lower earnings from the replication and direct-marketing business, Bertelsmann said today. The company didn’t give any forecasts for the current year.

All prior-year figures were adjusted for the discontinued club and bookselling businesses of the former Direct Group. The company said it will publish more detailed financial figures on March 28.

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