Bertelsmann’s profits up

German media co. hits record $963 mil operating profit

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann AG will report flat sales of 22.4 billion marks ($12.5 billion) but a record operating profit of 1.73 billion marks ($963 million) for the 1997-98 business year, according to German monthly Manager Magazine. The record profits, however, may be largely attributable to the shedding of non-core businesses during the last fiscal year.

A Bertelsmann spokesman declined to comment on the figures, which will be announced at a press conference on Sept. 23.

The rep also denied the magazine’s assertion that Bertelsmann is considering a bid to take over U.S. network CBS.

An investment of more than 20% in a U.S. network “would not be legally possible for a foreign company,” the rep told Daily Variety.

Bertelsmann’s acquisition of U.S. book publisher Random House and America Online’s takeover of Compuserve put pressure on the company’s profits, Bertelsmann chairman Mark Woessner said in an interview with the magazine.

Woessner attributed the sluggish sales to portfolio adjustments. Since 1996, the company has shed divisions with a combined sales volume of $752 million.

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