Bertelsmann at a Glance
Description of the Business
Bertelsmann operates in the core business fields of media, services and education in around 50 countries worldwide. The geographic core markets are Western Europe – in particular, Germany, France and the United Kingdom – and the United States. In addition, Bertelsmann is strengthening its involvement in growth markets such as Brazil, India and China. The Bertelsmann divisions are RTL Group (entertainment), Penguin Random House (books), BMG (music), Arvato (services), Bertelsmann Printing Group (printing), Bertelsmann Education Group (education) and Bertelsmann Investments (funds).
Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA is a capital market-oriented but unlisted partnership limited by shares. As a Group holding company, it exercises central corporate functions. Its internal corporate management and reporting follow the Group’s organizational structure, which consists of the operating divisions plus Corporate Investments and the Corporate Center.
Bertelsmann’s strategic focus is on a fast-growing, digital, international and diversified Group portfolio. Businesses in which Bertelsmann invests should have long-term stable growth, global reach, sustainable business models, high market-entry barriers and scalability. At the beginning of 2021, Bertelsmann defined a Group-wide growth initiative and presented the new strategic growth priorities necessary for that: national media champions, global content, global services, online education and investment portfolio. Further developing the strategy in this way is necessary to meet new challenges, such as growing competition from US tech platforms. The Group aims to grow in both existing and new lines of business through organic initiatives and acquisitions. The following topics form the basis for the successful implementation of the strategy: tech & data, upskilling, cooperation and alliances. Substantial progress was made in the implementation of the new strategic priorities in the 2021 financial year.
National Media Champions
The announced mergers of Groupe M6 and Groupe TF1 in France, of RTL Nederland and Talpa in the Netherlands, as well as the completed combination of RTL Deutschland and the German magazine businesses and brands of Gruner + Jahr, which was implemented in early 2022, will serve to create national media champions in the European markets. RTL Group initiated further consolidation steps with the announced disposals of RTL Belgium and RTL Croatia. The streaming services RTL+ in Germany and Videoland in the Netherlands recorded continued substantial increases in paying subscribers. RTL Deutschland further reinforced its market position through the full acquisition of Super RTL, and Gruner + Jahr sold its French subsidiary Prisma Media to the French media group Vivendi.
Bertelsmann also invested in the expansion of the global content business. The production company Fremantle announced several acquisitions and stake increases, and established the Global Factual unit in order to expand the business in high-end documentaries. Penguin Random House achieved creative and business successes, for example with “How to Avoid Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates and “Atlas of the Heart” by Brené Brown. BMG signed global superstars such as Bryan Adams, Santana and Johnny Marr, and – with the acquisition of the rock band Mötley Crüe’s music catalogue – effected the single biggest catalog acquisition since the company was founded in 2008. In March, BMG also entered into a strategic partnership with the private equity firm KKR for the acquisition of major music rights packages. In October, BMG also announced the acquisition of an extensive portfolio of Tina Turner rights.
The customer experience company Majorel recorded strong organic growth. To support its dynamic development, Majorel entered the capital market with its flotation on Euronext Amsterdam. Arvato Supply Chain Solutions invested in the expansion and automation of its global network of locations. Arvato Financial Solutions also grew organically, in particular with its range of “purchase on account” services. Arvato Systems won various business awards, underscoring both the company’s expertise and its market reputation as a partner in digital transformation.
Online Education Businesses
Bertelsmann Education Group benefited from continued high demand for the digital education and training provision of Relias and Alliant. Furthermore, Bertelsmann Education Group, together with Bertelsmann, continued with the digital training campaign #50000Chances, Bertelsmann’s response to the skills shortage in the areas of cloud, data and artificial intelligence. In Brazil, the acquisition of 25 percent of the capital shares and 46 percent of the voting rights in the listed education company Afya was completed.
Bertelsmann further expanded its global investment portfolio and made around 100 new and follow-up investments in 2021. As of the end of 2021, Bertelsmann Investments held a total of 290 investments through its four international funds. During 2021, Bertelsmann Investments also participated in a new financing round for Shiprocket, an Indian e-commerce service provider whose business has grown strongly during the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, Bertelsmann Investments realized profits from full and partial disposals of companies, among them Eruditus, a global provider of executive education.
Find out more about the strategy