Big year for Bertelsmann

TV rebound drives 2006 earnings

Bertelsmann posted record earnings and profits in 2006, a year in which the German media giant owners, the Mohn family, consolidated their control of the company (HR 3/22).

Revenue jumped 7.9% to a high of €19.3 billion ($25.6 billion), and net profits more than doubled to €2.4 billion ($3.2 billion), the company said March 21.

A rebound in the European television market and the €1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) sale of music publishing business BMG Music Publishing to Vivendi helped buff up Bertelsmann's bottom line.

The one black mark was the recorded music business, which continues to struggle. Restructuring at music division BMG cost Bertelsmann €54 million ($71.8 million) last year, but the business continued to shrink. BMG earned €2 billion ($2.7 billion) in 2006, down from €2.1 billion a year earlier, and EBITA profits slipped from €177 million in 2005 to €173 million ($230 million).

Bertelsmann also was hit by the €48 million ($64 million) out-of-court settlement reached with Universal Music Group in connection with Universal's Napster lawsuit.

It was a much brighter picture at television division RTL Group, which saw a 10% jump in revenue, which reached €5.6 billion ($7.5 billion).
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