Bertelsmann eyes global TV expansion

Spain, Scandinavia, France, U.K. in Middelhoff's sights

BERLIN — Bertelsmann chief Thomas Middelhoff wants to take his new television giant on an expansion drive to seven more countries.

Following the merger of its broadcasting unit CLT/Ufa and the TV activities of Pearson, the topper told German financial weekly Wirtschaftswoche that he has his eye on Spain, Scandinavia, France and the U.K. in particular. Pearson TV CEO Richard Eyre told Daily Variety at Mip in Cannes that the new company is already thinking about ways a U.S. studio or network partner could help expand Pearson’s presence Stateside (Daily Variety, April 12). Middelhoff has said that the group planned to take ownership stakes in U.S. broadcasters once foreign-ownership laws were modified.

Boosting stakes

Wirtschaftswoche quoted Middelhoff as saying he aimed to boost Bertelsmann’s stakes in companies in which the conglomerate does not yet fully own, citing Britain’s Channel 5 and the French M6 “if that’s possible.”

Additional television and film production companies are also of interest, he said, but nixed bidding for or joining a consortium in mobile telephony. He said the acquisitions could be financed with existing cash flow, citing CLT/Ufa’s 350 million euro ($337 million) cash reserves as only part of its war chest.

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