RTL play reported

WAZ may sell stake in media group

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann has expressed interest in buying the 7.4% stake in RTL Group held by media group Westdeutschen Allgemeinen Zeitung (WAZ), a newspaper said, but Bertelsmann called the report speculative.

Bertelsmann already holds a 67% stake in RTL, Europe’s leading TV and radio group.

WAZ has valued the stake at DM3 billion ($1.43 billion).

“We are considering disengaging ourselves,” WAZ chief Erich Schumann told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.

A Bertelsmann spokesman called the report speculative and declined to comment.

Bertelsmann recently acquired majority control of RTL following a share trade with Belgian banking outfit Groupe Bruxelles Lambert.

While media watchers say WAZ’s decision to sell its stake may be a direct result of the new setup among the shareholders, which left WAZ with less direct influence, Schumann said there were no problems with his RTL partners: “We work well together. We also don’t need any money for new projects, but we are thinking about what to do with our share in RTL.”

With revenues of nearly $2 billion a year, WAZ is one of Germany’s biggest media groups. Company publishes a number of newspapers and magazines throughout Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe.

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