Bertelsmann wants to structure its 50% share in the Sony BMG joint-venture more flexibly over the next few months, Bertelsmann CFO Thomas Rabe told German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
“We believe in the music business and see a positive trend particularly in the digital segment. However, we will be sitting down with Sony to look at whether we can optimize the joint-venture financially,” Rabe said in the interview, published Monday (July 3). Rabe said this does not mean Bertelsmann selling its stake in the music giant, but declined to disclose further details.
However, sources close to Bertelsmann say that talks are being conducted with Sony Corp chairman Howard Stringer with a view to perhaps giving Sony a majority stake in Sony BMG for an “interesting price.” Bertelsmann did not elaborate on Rabe’s comments.
Elsewhere in the article, Rabe commented on the planned “sacrifice” of BMG Publishing. “We are very reluctant to divest ourselves of BMG Publishing. However, as it contributes only 2% to Bertelsmann Group sales, it is the smallest sacrifice with a great effect.”
Bertelsmann has said it will buy out stakeholder Groupe Bruxelles Lambert 25.1% share in order to remain a private company. An auction of BMG Music Publishing will help fund that €4.5 billion ($5.7 billion) buy-back.