Bertelsmann to begin RTL stake sale early April - sources

FRANKFURT Fri Mar 15, 2013 2:32pm EDT

A satellite dish of RTL Television is seen on the roof of the former RTL headquarters in Cologne November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

A satellite dish of RTL Television is seen on the roof of the former RTL headquarters in Cologne November 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Wolfgang Rattay

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German TV and publishing group Bertelsmann is set to start the placement of part of its stake in RTL Group in early April, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Europe's biggest media firm is cutting its 92.3 percent stake in its TV arm to raise money for an overhaul of its business to catch up with fast-changing markets.

It wants to reduce its holding to 75 percent, meaning it could sell as much as 17.3 percent of RTL, a stake that has a market value of more than 1.5 billion euros ($2 billion).

Bertelsmann will sell the shares under a so-called re-IPO process, which is very similar to an initial public offering (IPO) with the exception that RTL is already a listed company.

As in a common flotation process, the RTL share placement will include research by analysts, a pre-marketing period, and about two weeks of bookbuilding, the sources said.

"The RTL Re-IPO will in many ways be similar to a normal IPO track," one of the people said.

Bertelsmann declined to comment.

With RTL's free floated shares currently totaling only 7 percent and rarely traded, Bertelsmann needs to educate potential investors and organize an auction to reap a good price for the shares, the sources said.

Bertelsmann will also include in the sales prospectus its annual results due on March 26. It will need to complete the transaction by mid-May if it wants to use full-year earnings as a basis for the prospectus.

Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Citigroup and Credit Suisse are running the sale, sources familiar with the transaction have said.

Bertelsmann said in September it planned major acquisitions and strategic partnerships to accelerate growth in a bid to become more international and a leading digital company.

It aims to expand into digital content and into emerging markets to complement its ailing print publishing business, where it is planning a merger with Pearson Penguin imprint.

It also said last month that it plans to buy out its partner in music rights company BMG, banking on pop fans to splash out on more digital downloads.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Additional reporting by Jörn Poltz; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Clelia Oziel)

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