Bertelsmann's Bold Buyout Plan

The media giant's new CEO has teamed with powerful partners in unusual new plan for leveraging acquisitions and paying off debt

When he takes over German media giant Bertelsmann at the end of 2007, Chief Executive Officer-designate Hartmut Ostrowski will inherit a solidly profitable company with one big liability. After buying back a 25% stake in itself from Brussels-based Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) last year, Bertelsmann's debt soared more than 40% at the end of 2006, to $8.8 billion. The debt means that Gütersloh-based Bertelsmann, with sales in 2006 of $25 billion, will have to strain to make big acquisitions to remain within the ranks of the world's top media groups.

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