Bertelsmann Selling $2.1 Billion Stock in Broadcaster RTL

Bertelsmann SE, Europe’s largest media company, is raising as much as 1.6 billion euros ($2.1 billion) from the sale of a stake in broadcasting unit RTL Group SA to gain funds for acquisitions.

Bertelsmann is selling 23.18 million RTL shares at 54 euros to 62 euros apiece, with trading to begin April 30 in Frankfurt, Luxembourg-based RTL said today. RTL stock rose as much as 1.1 percent to 57.92 euros in Brussels. Managers of the sale have an option to sell an additional 2.3 million shares. Bertelsmann, which owns about 92 percent of RTL, wants to keep at least a 75 percent stake.

Chief Executive Officer CEO Thomas Rabe plans to spend as much as 3 billion euros on acquisitions over three years as Bertelsmann seeks to reduce its reliance on Europe. RTL, which already has listings in Luxembourg and Brussels, is seeking growth from online and on-demand videos and has begun producing Youtube shows through its FremantleMedia division.

Bertelsmann is the second major Germany company to raise money selling shares in units this week. Daimler AG sold its remaining 7.5 percent stake in Airbus SAS parent European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. for 2.2 billion euros to focus on its luxury car and truck operations. EADS bought 16 million of the 61.1 million shares for 600 million euros.

German Listing

RTL, Europe’s largest broadcaster, said today first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes and amortization rose by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage, helped by growth in Germany. The company didn’t provide detailed figures.

For RTL, whose revenue rose 4 percent last year to a record 6 billion euros, a listing in Germany means getting better access to shareholders in its biggest market. The stock had fallen 24 percent this year through yesterday in Brussels.

Bertelsmann’s Random House publishing unit agreed in October to merge with Pearson Plc’s Penguin division to create by far the largest book publisher in the U.K. and the U.S. This year, the Guetersloh, Germany-based media company bought out partner KKR & Co.’s stake in their BMG music rights venture.

Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley are joint global coordinaters. The banks will also be bookrunners, along with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. BNP Paribas, Petercam SA and Societe Generale SA are acting as co-lead managers and Lazard Ltd. is working as financial adviser.

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