In digital push, Bertelsmann buys rest of G+J

Mon Oct 6, 2014 10:58am EDT
 
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By Harro Ten Wolde

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bertelsmann BTGGg.F is taking full ownership of Gruner + Jahr, publisher of magazines including Stern, Brigitte and National Geographic in Germany, as Europe's largest media group looks to make up ground after being slow to expand online.

The German company, which also controls broadcaster RTL AUDK.LU and co-owns book publisher Penguin Random House (PSON.L: Quote), said on Monday it would buy the 25.1 percent stake from the Jahr family for an undisclosed cash sum.

Privately owned Bertelsmann has held a 74.9 percent stake in the Hamburg-based publisher since 1976, with the Jahr family retaining the remaining shares and veto rights over major decisions such as acquisitions and disposals.

"Taking full ownership of Gruner + Jahr gives us the opportunity to act fast and respond to rapid developments in the publishing market. It will also be easier to decide on investments," Chief Executive Thomas Rabe said on a press call.

Bertelsmann's German rival Axel Springer, which is focusing on its digital business, sold a cluster of regional newspapers and magazines this year to peer Funke Mediengruppe for 920 million euros ($1.15 billion), almost 10 times EBITDA.

A person familiar with the deal said Bertelsmann paid a much lower multiple. "With a low triple-digit million price tag Bertelsmann got a bargain," said the person, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to discuss the price in public.

Rabe declined to give any details about the purchase price, beyond saying that it was "appropriate and fair".

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A satellite dish of RTL Television is seen on the roof of the former RTL headquarters in Cologne November 12, 2012.    REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay