Bertelsmann sells trade unit for $1.2 bil

Media group trimming $3.1 billion debt

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann is selling its BertelsmannSpringer science and trade publishing unit to British-based private equity firms Cinven and Candover for $1.2 billion.

Deal, which ended months of talks with potential buyers, continues the media group’s efforts to streamline and pare down its $3.1 billion debt, which rose sharply last year with the acquisition of Zomba Music.

Bertelsmann is expected to focus on TV, music and publishing, and the sale should allow for investment and acquisitions in those fields, including a possible bid for AOL Time Warner’s book publishing unit.

Companies inked the deal Monday, although it has not been decided whether Candover and Cinven will also acquire the group’s French operations, which account for 4.5% of revenues.

Approval needed

BertelsmannSpringer, which includes 70 companies in 16 countries, publishes 700 magazines and more than 4,000 new books a year. Unit made revenues of $842 million last year and an operating profit of $82 million. The sale is subject to antitrust approval.

Candover and Cinven plan to merge BertelsmannSpringer with Kluwer Academic Publishers, the scientific publishing unit they acquired from Dutch publisher Wolters Kluwer last year.

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