Bertelsmann sells Direct Group N.A.

Move is part of strategic overhaul

COLOGNE, Germany -- Bertelsmann has sold its Direct Group North America unit, which controls direct marketing operations including Columbia House record club and the Book of the Month club to Arizona-based investment group Najafi Cos. for an undisclosed sum.

The sale is part of a strategic overhaul at Bertelsmann as the German giant looks to sell off its less profitable operations to pay down debt. Bertelsmann's international Direct Group operations, which include its many European book clubs, and the company's 50% stake in music label Sony BMG are among the other assets on the auction block.