Bertelsmann eyes rest of RTL


German media conglomerate Bertelsmann is considering buying the remaining 10.2% of RTL Group, Europe's leading broadcasting company.

Bertelsmann said Tuesday that it has not yet made an offer for the RTL shares but that a buyout is "under consideration." If the company decides to make an offer, Bertelsmann said it is not prepared to pay more than €82 ($120) a share for the RTL stake.

Since hitting a year-high of about €90 ($132.2) in April, RTL stock has been on a steady downward slide. In early trading Tuesday, RTL shares dropped €0.15 ($0.22) to €69.1 ($101).

Bertelsmann already controls 89.8% of RTL, which owns "American Idol" producer Fremantle Media and operates such channels as RTL in Germany, M6 in France and Five in the U.K. RTL already is Bertelsmann's top asset, accounting for 28% of the German company's sales of €19.3 billion ($28.4 billion) last year.

A buyout, which would cost Bertelsmann more than €1 billion ($1.47 billion), would allow Bertelsmann to save on administrative costs and achieve other efficiencies.

RTL said that, should Bertelsmann make an offer, the broadcaster will assess it "in accordance with the interests of the company, its employees and its minority shareholders."

A previous attempt by Bertelsmann to buy out its publicly traded RTL division failed when the two sides could not agree on a price.

Bertelsmann, however, has shown it is willing to go to great lengths to take full control of its key assets.

In 2006, it paid €4.5 billion for a 25.1% stake in itself held by Belgian investment company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert to prevent GBL from taking the stake public.

RTL partially financed that deal through the sale of its BMG Music Publishing division.