Bertelsmann SE, Europe’s largest media company, will add a Frankfurt listing for its RTL Group SA (RTL) unit, seeking to appeal to a broader base of investors as it prepares to cut its stake in the broadcaster.
The debut is expected before the summer break and will add to listings in Luxembourg and Brussels, Bertelsmann said today in a statement. Bertelsmann, based in Guetersloh, Germany, reiterated a plan to cut its stake in RTL to at least 75 percent from 92.3 percent.
The move will allow “a more diverse ownership base to share in our success,” RTL co-Chief Executive Officers Guillaume de Posch and Anke Schaeferkordt said in a separate statement. “Bertelsmann is and will remain the majority shareholder in RTL Group -– and will continue to support the strategic development of our business.”
The stake to be sold is valued by the market at about 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion). Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe said last week the company plans to spend as much as 3 billion euros on acquisitions over three years as it seeks to grow and limit its reliance on Europe.
The company’s Random House publishing unit agreed in October to merge with Pearson Plc (PSON)’s Penguin division to create by far the largest book publisher in the U.K. and the U.S. This year, Bertelsmann reached a deal to buy out partner KKR & Co. (KKR:US)’s stake in their BMG music rights venture.
For RTL, whose revenue rose 4 percent last year to a record 6 billion euros, a listing in Germany means getting better access to shareholders in its biggest market. The shares have fallen 25 percent through yesterday in Brussels, including the payment of a total 1.6 billion euros of dividends on March 7, since Bertelsmann announced plans to cut the stake Jan. 31.
The stock fell 0.4 percent to 56.80 euros at 9:08 a.m. in Brussels.
Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley will coordinate the transaction, RTL said. The banks will also be bookrunners for the deal, along with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. BNP Paribas and Societe Generale SA are acting as co-lead managers and Lazard Ltd. (LAZ:US) is working as financial adviser.
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