As it seeks to expand, Europe’s biggest media company, Bertelsmann, plans to spend as much as 3B euros ($3.9B) on acquisitions over the next three years, a move that reflects the current culture of increased media M&A activity in Europe. The company recently said it would reduce its stake in broadcasting giant and FremantleMedia owner the RTL Group, potentially raising about $2B. CEO Thomas Rabe said today that those proceeds coupled with about 500M euros in annual net cash flow would help fund individual deals worth “a couple hundred millions of euros,” according to Bloomberg. Bertelsmann is looking to expand into digital content and emerging markets and Rabe said, “It is our clear objective to grow the company in the next couple of years. Assuming a little bit of tailwind from a recovery in Europe, we expect to grow to 17B euros this year and 18B euros in the next.” An IPO, however, is “off the table for the foreseeable future.” READ MORE »
‘The X-Factor’ Musical Headed To London’s West End
The show’s creator Simon Cowell has granted permission for a London stage version of the TV singing competiton. Cowell and Sony Music’s joint venture Syco Entertainment are partnering with Stage Entertainment UK (Oliver!, Hairspray, Singin In The Rain) to launch the musical next year, Reuters reports. What they’re calling an affectionate poke at Cowell’s TV show, X Factor – It’s Time To Face The Musical! will hit London’s West End in early 2014. British comedian Harry Hill is writing with Steve Brown handling music and Sean Foley is directing. Story centers on fictional character Chenice who finds herself and her talking dog in line waiting for an audition that will change her life.
Despite reported last-minute interest from News Corp., UK-based Pearson has agreed to merge its Penguin with Bertelsmann’s Random House. It creates the world’s leading consumer publisher. The deal, announced Monday morning, comes after the News Corp.-owned Sunday Times said Rupert Murdoch had indicated he would offer about $1.6B for Penguin. A combination of Penguin and News Corp.’s HarperCollins would have had an English-language book market share of 20%, and appeared favored by analysts, according to Reuters. The combined Penguin Random House will have about a 25%-30% share as the companies look to fend off competition in the e-book space. The joint venture will be 53%-owned by Bertelsmann and 47%-owned by Pearson and is subject to regulatory and other approvals. It is expected to close in the second half of 2013. Following is the press release from Pearson: