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Pearson Agrees Sale Of RTL Stake

UK media group Pearson has this morning agreed the sale of its 22% stake in European broadcaster RTL to German group Bertelsmann for E1.5 billion. The deal, worth E44-a-share, sees Pearson depart from the commercial television market whilst Bertelsmann strengthens its position.

Bertelsmann now owns 89% of RTL and has made an offer to buy out the remaining 11% shareholder stake for E44-a-share in order that it may take the company private.

Bertelsmann chairman & CEO, Thomas Middelhoff, said: "This is the next strategic step towards becoming a primarily TV- and Internet-driven, integrated media and entertainment group for the future. In BertelsmannÂ's portfolio, the focus of which has changed profoundly over the past three years from print to entertainment – RTL Group today contributes the greatest share of revenue and profit. RTL GroupÂ's numerous powerful brands in the television, radio, TV production and online sectors are particularly valuable marketing platforms and carriers of excellent media content to the consumer."

For Pearson, the deal is worth £130 million in non-operating profit easing the strain on the company's balance sheet (see Pearson Warns On Profits Seeing 'No Material Recovery' In Ad Market). Pearson chief executive, Marjorie Scardino, said: "This transaction will enable us to focus all our efforts on the businesses we control as well as strengthening our balance sheet and enhancing our earnings and cash flow. We're proud of the television business we helped create that is now RTL and we wish all our colleagues there well for the future."

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