Bertelsmann

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Bertelsmann AG is a transnational media corporation founded in 1835, based in Gütersloh, Germany. The company operates in 63 countries and employs 102,983 workers (as of December 31, 2009), which makes it the most international media corporation in the world. In 2009 the company reported a 15.354 billion revenue and an operating EBIT of €1.424 billion.[1] Among its some 500 subdivisions, subsidiaries, and branches are Random House, RTL Group, Gruner + Jahr, Arvato and Direct Group.

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Ownership

Bertelsmann is not publicly listed and is majority owned (77.4%) by the Bertelsmann Foundation, a non-profit organisation and political think tank set up by the Mohn family, which in turn privately owns the remaining 22.6%.[2] Albert Frère, a Belgian industrialist, owned 25% of Bertelsmann until 2006.

Businesses

Since the SonyBMG joint venture was given up in 2008 Bertelsmann currently maintains five corporate divisions:[3]

  • RTL Group, Europe's biggest broadcaster of radio and television, which is also the umbrella division for Bertelsmann's movie and TV production enterprises
  • Gruner + Jahr, the biggest magazine publisher in Europe[4]
  • Random House, the world's largest trade book publisher
  • Direct Group, the world's largest book and music club group
  • Arvato, an international media and communications service provider

BMG Rights Management replaced BMG Music Publishing, concentrating on music rights management. The division is currently forthcoming. Together with its five major divisions Bertelsmann holds assets in more than 200 companies and enterprises worldwide.

History

The C. Bertelsmann Verlag was founded as a publishing house and print shop in July 1835 by Carl Bertelsmann. At first Bertelsmann concentrated on Christian songs and books. In 1851, led by Carl Bertelsmann's son Heinrich, the company began publishing novels. During the following years Bertelsmann expanded steadily. By 1939 the publishing house employed 401 people. During World War II, Bertelsmann was the biggest single producer of Nazi propaganda. Owner Heinrich Mohn and his son Reinhard Mohn were both members of the SS.

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