Ready to block bid

Bertelsmann preps buyback to halt IPO

Bertelsmann said Monday it is prepared for all options if minority shareholder Group Bruxelles Lambert decides to put its 25% stake on the block.

GBL has the right as of today to seek a public listing of its stake in the German media giant, valued at around $6 billion.

At the company’s annual general meeting Monday, Bertelsmann execs said the company was “prepared for a buyback of GBL’s stake at a reasonable price, if the shareholders reach an agreement.”

Company said in a statement that the executive board and the majority shareholding Mohn family were in full agreement “that in the case of such a repurchase, Bertelsmann would be able to continue to invest in its businesses and maintain its solid financial standing.”

Some local news reports have suggested there’s a growing rift between the Mohn family, which has been steadfastly against an initial public offering of the group, and Bertelsmann’s management, which may be more receptive to the idea.

Bertelsmann said it was prepared to see an IPO through, adding it was ready to fulfill its contractual obligations and prepare the listing in accordance to a deal struck with GBIL in 2001. Bertelsmann already meets the requirements of the capital markets.

The exec board expressed confidence that Bertelsmann would continue to develop successfully, regardless of whether its shares were publicly listed or whether it bought back GBL’s shares, noting the company’s strong 2005 results as well as its first-quarter performance this year.

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