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Bertelsmann’s capital plan

Media giant to invest in capital office in U.S.

Amid a major push to extend its influence in the U.S., German conglom Bertelsmann will open an office this week in Washington, D.C., U.S. chief exec Joel Klein said at a venture capital conference in Gotham on Tuesday.

Klein, the keynote speaker at the New York New Media Assn.’s “Venture Downtown” conference, said the move was part of his mandate to raise the Stateside profile of the media giant, which does 60% of its business outside the U.S.

“We have a critical position in Europe that I believe we’ll be able to pivot off of” to build an expanded global presence, he said.

Exec, a former chief of the U.S. Justice Dept.’s antitrust division, also predicted that the rapid pace of consolidation among media companies worldwide would continue as their leaders realize the value of having content and distribution under one roof.

“Contrary to what you might think, I don’t see that as a bad thing,” he said. “One of the things I learned (at the Justice Dept.) is that numbers are not necessarily the only thing that drives competition.”

In addition, Bertelsmann is folding its Internet retailer BOL.com into its book and music club division, DirectGroup, and shutting down operations altogether in some markets.

The German media giant plans to combine BOL in Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and the U.K. and will close its Danish and Norwegian branches.

(Ed Meza in Berlin contributed to this report.)