Big day for Bertelsmann

Alisa Roth May 23, 2006

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It’s a big day for media conglomerate Bertelsmann. Today is the day a minority stakeholder could formally request an initial public offering. It’s also the day the family-owned company could decide to buy out the 25-percent ownership instead. Alisa Roth gives us the pros and cons.

ALISA ROTH: You may not recognize the Bertelsmann name. But Bertelsmann is a media conglomerate that rivals giants like News Corp and Disney. You probably know some of its holdings. Like Random House and Sony BMG.

The closely held company is owned by a German family. A 2001 deal gave a Belgian minority shareholder the right to ask for an IPO. It’s a way for that company to sell its 25-percent stock in Bertelsmann. The family’s said all along that it would comply with the rules.

Industry analyst Hal Vogel says an IPO could be good for Bertelsmann.

HAL VOGEL: Going public is something that would be very welcome probably by the market, because a lot of people are interested around the world in large media investments and this is one of the few that is there.

He says staying private would mean few changes to Bertelsmann or its holdings.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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