Thursday, July 17, 2008

More From Bertelsmann AG

Last week I did two posts on Bertelsmann AG, the parent company of Random House. In the second one here, I reported that Bertelsmann has agreed to sell its direct-to-consumer business in the United States to Najafi Companies.

Bertelsmann described the business being sold--Direct Group North America--as including "book, DVD and music club brands [like] Doubleday Book Club, Book-of-the-Month Club, Mystery Guild, Black Expressions and Columbia House."

Shortly after the sale was reported, Bertelsmann denied reports that it had plans to sell its European book clubs.

Well, time changes all things.

On Tuesday, included a report from the Associated Press as follows:

German media company Bertelsmann AG said Tuesday it will sell off its book and music clubs in several regions, including some countries in Europe and Australia.

In a letter to employees obtained by The Associated Press, chief executive Hartmut Ostrowski said the company's board intends to explore sales of its Direct Group units in Australia, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Flemish-speaking Belgium, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom . . . Bertelsmann will hold on to Direct Group's businesses in German- and French-speaking regions as well as Italy, Portugal and Spain, concentrating on the larger markets in Europe.
Because Bertelsmann is not a publicly held company, the financial details of the deals will not be publicly available. The closely held stock is controlled by the German Mohn family.

A little more than a year ago, on May 5, 2007 here, I did a post on a BusinessWeek article that reported:
. . . Bertelsmann has also become the biggest book publisher in the Czech Republic and has scored big successes in Poland, Russia, and elsewhere.
This January, Bertelsmann named a new Chairman and CEO, Hartmut Ostrowski. Two months ago, Ostrowski announced a new CEO at Random House. Markus Dohle has no publishing experience, but it's expected he will take steps to "revitalize" Random House.

It sounds like Ostrowski and Dohle are shaking up things at Bertelsmann.

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