Bertelsmann's RTL Sale Raises $1.8 Billion for Acquisitions

Scott Roxborough
Bertelsmann's RTL Sale Raises $1.8 Billion for Acquisitions

COLOGNE, Germany - European media giant Bertelsmann has another $1.8 billion in its war chest, following its sale of a 17 percent stake in its broadcasting division RTL Group, which owns 53 TV channels in 10 countries as well as production group FremantleMedia, makers of American Idol and the X Factor.

The sale of 25.5 million shares in RTL leaves Bertelsmann with a 75.1 percent controlling stake in the group but provides the German-based company with much needed liquidity. Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe has said he plans to spend as much as $4 billion (€3 billion) over the next three years in acquisitions aimed at making the Euro-centric old media company more international and digitally savvy.

PHOTOS: Leslie Moonves, David Zaslav, Robert Iger: 10 Highly-Paid Entertainment CEOs

“Our goal is to make Bertelsmann a faster growing, more digital and more international company in the years ahead" Rabe said in a statement.

Fast-growing markets in India, China and Brazil are prime targets for Bertelsmann's shopping spree, as are silicon valley and its regional equivalents worldwide.

The price for the RTL share sale at $72.5 (€55.5) was at the low end of the original range Bertelsmann had set between €54 - €62 a share.

RTL Group began listing on the Frankfurt stock exchange Tuesday, trading just below €55 a share. The stock is also listed in Brussels and Luxembourg.