Bertelsmann Profits Soar to $1.2B, BMG Stake Cited

The owner of 'American Idol' Producer FremantleMedia, music group BMG and broadcaster RTL Group posts net profits of $1.2 billion for 2013.

Record operating profits at its European broadcasting division RTL Group lifted results for German media giant Bertelsmann, which posted its 2013 figures Wednesday.

Total revenue was up by around 2 percent to $22.6 billion (€16.4 billion) last year, with net profits soaring 42 percent to $1.2 billion (€870 million).

The still-booming TV market in Germany and The Netherlands helped paper over declines in other territories -- including France -- as well as lower returns from Bertelsmann's TV production division FremantleMedia, which produce shows such as "American Idol" and "X Factor."

Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe pointed to several major acquisitions and mergers as growth engines, including the company's purchase of KKR's stake in music rights division BMG, giving Bertelsmann full control of the group, which manages rights to more than 1 million songs, including titles from Bruno Mars, Will.i.am and the Rolling Stones' Mike Jagger and Keith Richards.

"In just five years, BMG has become the number four company in music rights and is one of the most active protagonists in the business," said Rabe.

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RTL's German division, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, posted its best-ever financial result ever, with EBITA jumping 7.1 per cent to $859 million (€622 million), against $767 million (€581 million) in 2012.

Bertelsmann's Germany operations even had a rare cinematic hit last year in the form of period drama "The Physician" from Berlin-based Ufa Cinema.

The literary adaptation starring Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Kingsley and Tom Payne has earned more than $50 million from just two territories -- Germany and Spain.

Financially, Bertelsmann is in robust health, after floating some 25.5 million shares in RTL Group last year, which raised $2.07 billion (€1.5 billion), cash Bertelsmann plans to invest mainly in digital media and in expansion in such high-growth territories as Asia and Latin America. Following the share issue, Bertelsmann retained a majority, 75.1 percent stake in RTL Group.

Bertelsmann also used the cash raised to help pay down its debt, which it cut to $878 million (€636 million) by the end of 2013 from $1.66 billion (€1.2 billion) in 2012.