BERTELSMANN 6M PROFIT TRIPLES ON MUSIC, TV

Group Considering BBC Worldwide Buy, Has $2.4 Billion to Burn
Privately held German media conglom Bertelsmann reported today that its net profit for the first half of the year rose to €446 million ($541 million) from €110 million for the same period last year—a threefold-plus increase. The company’s operating profit, which doesn’t include its minority holdings in other businesses, also rose dramatically to €596 million from €186 million last year, though revenue rose only 3% to €8.14 billion from €7.88 billion.

Music group BMG, which is now part of the merged Sony BMG recorded-music joint venture, reported six-month operating profit of €74 million, up from a loss of €135 million last year. BMG has been riding a hot streak on the charts, with Usher, R. Kelly, Maroon 5 and Avril Lavigne among the group’s current top sellers.

Bertelsmann also got a big boost from its European broadcasting giant RTL Group, and from Random House, which nearly tripled its earnings during the period thanks to huge sales for Bill Clinton’s My Life.

Said Bertelsmann CEO Gunter Thielen in a statement, “We are steadily increasing our scope for investments to strengthen our core businesses and expand in new growth markets.”

The company has been invited to bid, along with larger American rivals Time Warner and Disney, on the BBC’s BBC Worldwide unit, which owns publishing and broadcasting interests. Bertelsmann is said to have €2 billion ($2.4 billion) on hand to use for acquisitions.

While Bertelsmann mulls that and other possible acquisitions, CFO Siegfried Luther said the company “continues to expect a year-on-year improvement in operating results.”
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