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Bertie a Buyer

BERTIE A BUYER: German media group Bertelsmann would consider buying the publishing units of either Warner or EMI in order to turn BMG Rights Management, its joint venture with private equity firm KKR, into “one of the biggest and best-run” music companies in the world, according to CFO Thomas Rabe. The exec added he wouldn’t overpay for either, and instead pursue the current strategy of buying small and medium-sized catalogs and music publishers. Currently, BMG owns or manages 300k rights, making it the fifth-largest publisher. Even without WMG or EMI, BMG is projected to more than double revenues to $584-705m by 2015, bumping operating margin to 25%. Bertelsmann revenues rose 4.5% to 15.8bn last year and operating earnings before interest and taxes increased fourfold to 1.9bn, bringing a record operating margin of 11.7%. Said Chief Exec Hartmut Ostrowski: “The issue of debt has been dealt with for good. Financially speaking, Bertelsmann is ready to invest again.” (3/29p)

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