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Bertelsmann now set to spend $36 bil

Sale of AOL shares allows company to purchase, enter mergers

BERLIN — The chief exec of German media giant Bertelsmann said over the weekend that the company is in a position to spend DM75 billion ($37 billion).

In an interview published two days after the company made official its plans to sell 50% stakes in online providers AOL Europe and AOL Australia, Thomas Middelhoff told the paper the sale puts it in a position to employ debt and “go shopping for around $37 billion.”

Bertelsmann announced Friday that it was selling back its shares in AOL Europe and AOL Australia to partner AOL, as anticipated following the merger of Time Warner and AOL.

Funds for shopping spree

Company said that the sale, estimated to be worth about $7.4 billion, would triple its equity capital and allow it to make fresh purchases and enter mergers.

Bertelsmann has been criticized for its restrictive business practices that make a merger like that of Time Warner and AOL an impossibility; indeed, AOL proposed a merger with Bertelsmann before making a deal with Time Warner.

Bertelsmann has said it wants to become No. 1 in the world in e-commerce and the music biz.

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