Bertelsmann eyes acquisitions, IPO of call-centre venture – CEO

BERLIN (Reuters) – Bertelsmann has the financial firepower to invest 2-3 billion euros ($2.4-$3.6 billion) in acquisitions, CEO Thomas Rabe said on Tuesday after the German publishing group posted strong first-half results.

Rabe also confirmed a report that an initial public offering of call-centre business Majorel – a 50-50 joint venture with Moroccan partner Saham – was under consideration while adding that no decision had been taken on timing.

“An IPO is always an option,” Rabe told reporters when asked about Majorel.

Business daily Handelsblatt reported recently that JP Morgan, Citigroup and BNP Paribas had been hired to float Majorel in Amsterdam this autumn in a deal that could value the business at 3 billion euros.

“Majorel has fantastic momentum and has developed to the great satisfaction of its owners,” said Rabe of the venture that was struck in 2018 and employs more than 60,000 staff in 31 countries.

Privately-held Bertelsmann – whose interests include broadcaster RTL Group, book publisher Penguin Random House and music publisher BMG – reported double-digit revenue growth and record profit of 1.4 billion euros in the first half.

Bertelsmann also raised its outlook and, with net debts on a downward trajectory, Rabe said it had enough firepower to grow through acquisitions while remaining a private company.

Of the cash available for deals, Rabe said part would go towards the proposed $2.2 billion takeover of publisher Simon & Schuster, which has been cleared in Britain but awaits approval from the U.S. regulator.

Otherwise, he was looking at deals to bulk up Bertelsmann’s education offering and to lift TV production business Fremantle towards its mid-term goal of 3 billion euros in annual revenue.

($1 = 0.8457 euros)

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