Bertelsmann seeking total control of RTL


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

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

Since hitting a year-high of around 90 euros ($132.2) in April, RTL stock has been on a steady downward slide. In early trading Tuesday, RTL shares were down 0.15 euros ($0.22) at 69.1 euros ($101).

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

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

RTL said should Bertelsmann make an offer, the broadcaster would 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 division RTL failed when the two sides could not agree on a price tag.

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

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

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