Bertelsmann to Raise Billions From RTL Stake Sale

European media conglomerate Bertelsmann has confirmed its plans to sell off a minority stake in broadcast giant RTL Group, a move that could raise as much as $2.5 billion (€2 billion) for future acquisitions.

Bertelsmann Thursday said it would reduce its holding in RTL Group by way of a secondary public offering, selling up to 17% of RTL to private and institutional investors in Germany, Luxembourg and to other institutional investors via private placements. Following the sale, Bertelsmann will still retain a qualified majority of at least 75% in RTL Group.

Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe intends to use the cash from the RTL sale to fuel expansion and acquisitions. Rabe has highlighted digital media, the Asian market and content production as three areas where Bertelsmann needs to grow.

FremantleMedia, Bertelsmann's content production, rights and distribution subsidiary, which produces such TV formats as American Idol and The X Factor, could be one of the main beneficiaries of the RTL sale.

Since taking over as chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann last year, Rabe has overseen a number of major acquisitions, including the buyout of music publisher BMG and the merger of Bertelsmann's Random House with Penguin, a deal under which Bertelsmann holds a 53% stake in the new joint venture.

RTL Group, which is currently listed on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and the Euronext Brussels market, said it intends to apply for a listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and expects to be trading its shares on Frankfurt's Regulated Market before the summer break.