Court nixes Bertelsmann-RTL suit

Minority shareholders may appeal ruling

BERLIN — A Luxembourg court on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit by minority shareholders of RTL Group seeking to annul Bertelsmann’s acquisition of Europe’s biggest TV broadcaster in 2001.

The district court dismissed the minority shareholders’ claim that Bertelsmann did not offer them as much money for their shares as it did to former RTL shareholder Groupe Bruxelles Lambert. The court said it found no law that enforced equal treatment for minority shareholders.

Bertelsmann boosted its share in RTL to 90.4% after it bought out British publisher Pearson, a former co-owner, in 2001 at e44 ($49.80) per share. It also gave GBL 25.1% of its own equity in exchange for the Belgian holding group’s 29.9% stake in RTL.

The irate shareholders based their complaint on the estimated value of the transaction, which indicated Bertelsmann offered GBL a higher price for its shares.

Lawyers for the shareholders group said they would study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

Bertelsmann had offered to buy out minority shareholders after the Pearson deal but later withdrew the offer.

(Reuters contributed to this report.)

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