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BERTELSMANN NETS, VIACOM BETS

Bertelsmann’s Up 45%, Viacom Eyes 20% Growth
It's springtime for Bertlesmann earnings in Germany.

Thanks to strength from TV company RTL Group PLC and its BMG Entertainment music division, the German media conglom reported a 45% increase in net profit for the fiscal year ended June 30.

The closely held company, with interests in diverse properties from publishing and printing to TV, music and book clubs, reported net profit of 1.32 billion marks (674.9 million euros or $582 million), compared with 910 million marks a year earlier. EBITDA rose 36% to 3.32 billion marks from 2.45 billion marks. Cash flow rose 22% to 2.21 billion marks, compared to 1.81 billion marks a year earlier.

BMG Entertainment posted a 16% increase in sales to 9.41 billion marks for the period. The company has a war chest of about 30 billion marks for acquisitions, according to Chief Executive Thomas Middlehoff, who says Bertlesmann is looking for "vertical acquisitions" to expand the market share for its music operations.

The company also said it intends to sell its stake in Internet service provicer operations, including a European alliance with AOL and a partnership with AOL Germany.

Meanwhile, Viacom Chairman/Chief Executive Sumner Redstone told a U.S. equities conference in London that he's aiming to deliver core earnings of at least 20% this year and next. "We intend to grow EBITDA for core Viacom operations and use our strong free cash flow to acquire TV stations, radio stations and outdoor properties and to try to induce that nice man from Rage Against the Machine to come down off the scaffolding."

HITS LIST: AMPERSANDS
Dynamic duos (12/3a)
TAYLOR'S TREMENDOUS YEAR
She'd make one helluva CEO. (12/3a)
THEY CALL THE WINDFALL MARIAH (HOLIDAY EDITION)
Ch-chingle bells (12/3a)
SONG REVENUE:
BOWS OF HOLLY
Adele is money. (12/3a)
UTA MUSIC EXPANDS IN NASHVILLE
Reshuffling the deck (12/3a)
CHESTNUTS
Roasting.
STOCKINGS
Stuffing.
PIPERS
Piping.
SANTA
Coming.
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