RTL buyout plan kaput

Bertelsmann backs down

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann said Tuesday it had canceled plans to buy out the remaining minority shareholders in RTL Group, Europe’s largest commercial broadcaster.

In January, Bertelsmann, which owns 90% of RTL, offered minority shareholders 44 euros ($39) per share ( Daily Variety, Jan. 9) — the same price it paid U.K.-based media group Pearson for its 22% stake in the unit.

But a group of shareholders has thwarted the media giant’s plans. In January, Luxembourg-based institutional investor BGL Investment Partners (BIP) called Bertelsmann’s offer “unacceptable” and threatened to take legal action.

“We will not accept this offer, and we will make life as difficult as possible for Bertelsmann,” BIP chairman Alain Georges said at the time, warning, “We can be an important irritation if it wants to get 100% of the company.”

The move has forced Bertelsmann to shelve its plans despite lengthy discussions with shareholders. It said it retained the right to increase its RTL stock in the future but added that it would respect the rights of fellow shareholders.

RTL will continue to manage the company for the benefit of all the shareholders.

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