RTL Group saw positive business development in the first half of the year, growing both its revenues and earnings. First-half revenues increased 3.2 percent year on year to €2.9 billion (H1 2015: €2.8 billion). Key contributors to this were Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, the further expansion of the international digital businesses, and the TV activities in France. Operating EBITDA grew by 8.2 percent to €676 million (H1 2015: €625 million). This significant earnings improvement was primarily fueled by Groupe M6 and Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland. The increase at Groupe M6 was mainly driven by a positive effect associated with the gradual phase-out of the M6 Mobile contract. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland once again generated record earnings.
Overall, RTL Group’s families of channels developed positively in a favorable market environment, with all relevant European TV advertising markets except Hungary showing growth. As the live matches of the European soccer championships were aired by the public broadcasters, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland's combined audience share in the main target group decreased slightly. However, its lead over the largest commercial competitor grew to three percentage points. In addition, Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland launched two new TV channels and secured the broadcasting rights for 28 more matches of Germany’s national soccer team. In France, Groupe M6 achieved significant audience share gains in the commercial target group; its flagship channel M6 benefited from the broadcast of eight European soccer championship matches in June.
Fremantle Media generated lower first-half revenues year on year, mainly due to declines in North America. However, the revenue decrease was more than offset on the earnings side. At the same time, the production company strengthened its position with further acquisitions, including in the UK and Israel.
RTL Group’s digital businesses continued their dynamic growth, increasing their first-half revenue by 20.5 percent from €219 million in the first half of 2015 to €264 million in the first half of 2016. The online video sites generated a total of 123.1 billion views, up 190 percent year on year. Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland strengthened its digital portfolio by acquiring a majority stake in the online video advertising sales house SmartClip.
Penguin Random House
The world’s leading trade book publisher Penguin Random House delivered a strong bestseller-sales performance that was impacted by an expected decline in e-book sales in the United States and UK due in part to new retail sales terms, leading to a decrease in revenues and operating EBITDA during the reporting period. The publishing group’s first-half revenues, inclusive of Verlagsgruppe Random House, which is wholly owned by Bertelsmann, declined 10.7 percent year on year to €1.5 billion (H1 2015: €1.7 billion). The financial impact on revenues from portfolio changes and negative currency effects were partly offset by steady physical book sales, and growth in the audio format. Savings from the nowcompleted integration contributed significantly to operating EBITDA, which was down by 10.6 percent to €185 million (H1 2015: €207 million).
In the United States, Penguin Random House had 316 “New York Times” bestsellers in the first six months of the year, 59 at number one. Its top-selling titles were the novels “Me Before You” and “After You” by Jojo Moyes, with 2.4 million copies sold. “The Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins remained a number-one bestseller for much of the period, selling over 800,000 print, audio and e-books. Multi-title Dr. Seuss classics sold more than three million books.
In the UK, Penguin Random House published more than half of the “Sunday Times” weekly top-ten bestseller list titles, 113 books. Together with the novels by Hawkins and Moyes, top sellers included Bill Bryson’s “The Road to Little Dribbling” and Roald Dahl’s children’s book “The BFG.”
In Spain and Latin America, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial expanded its Spanish- and Portuguese-language publishing activities, with higher sales and increased market share in Spain, offset by worsening economic conditions in Latin America.
Verlagsgruppe Random House in Germany had a stable first six months, placing 236 titles on the “Spiegel” bestseller lists.
Many of the publishing group’s authors won prestigious awards during the reporting period, including US Pulitzer Prizes for General Nonfiction, History, and Autobiography.
Bertelsmann owns 53 percent of shares in Penguin Random House, Pearson 47 percent.
Gruner + Jahr
Gruner + Jahr continued its strategic transformation. The first half of the year saw acquisitions and cooperation agreements in all key markets. Revenues remained near-stable at €777 million (H1 2015: €785 million), reflecting a year-on-year decline of 1.0 percent. The main revenue-reducing effects were overall developments in the print advertising market and changes to the portfolio – e.g., the sale of Motor Presse Stuttgart in France. These declines were nearly entirely compensated by steep growth in digital revenues in Germany and France. Revenues from G+J’s digital businesses in the core markets grew by 31 percent. Operating EBITDA decreased by 7.1 percent to €52 million (H1 2015: €56 million). This was due in particular to high expenses for digital businesses, especially at G+J Germany. G+J France’s businesses and Deutsche Presse Vertrieb (DPV) contributed higher results than in the first half of 2015.
G+J Germany increased its first-half revenues year on year. This was driven largely by organic and acquisitive expansion of the digital businesses both in the growth areas of Content, Community and Commerce, and in the digital marketing business. The acquired companies Trnd, Danato, Delinero and Employour contributed additional revenues. Thanks to the successful launch of new magazine titles, G+J Germany was also able to keep its circulation revenues nearly stable. During the reporting period, G+J formed Germany’s largest content communication service provider: Territory. Dresdner Druckund Verlagshaus and DPV both generated higher revenues than in the same period last year.
In France, Prisma Media increased its revenues and earnings. The continued strong growth of the digital businesses more than compensated for market-related declines in the print advertising business. Prisma Media also acquired Groupe Cerise, one of the country’s leading digital video providers.
The Bertelsmann music subsidiary BMG, which has operated as an independent division since January 1, 2016, further consolidated its market position in publishing and recorded music rights while continuing to grow its business. Revenues increased 4.6 percent to €182 million (H1 2015: €174 million), driven by growth in the publishing business in the UK and continental Europe as well as the recorded music business in the United States and continental Europe. Operating EBITDA amounted to €32 million, up by 6.7 percent year on year (H1 2015: €30 million).
BMG strengthened its portfolio through a series of acquisitions and catalog purchases in the first half of the year. The acquisition of a majority stake in the ARC music publishing catalog secured the company the rights to songs by artists including Chuck Berry, the Beach Boys and John Lee Hooker. BMG has also made progress implementing key strategic initiatives such as consolidating its worldwide recorded music distribution, and entering the markets in Australia and Brazil. Just a few months after entering the market in Australia, BMG announced it would take over Alberts, one of the country’s most historic independent music companies.
Among the most important clients newly signed to BMG during the first half of the year was Pink Floyd founder and songwriter Roger Waters. BMG now represents Roger Waters’ publishing interests in the Pink Floyd catalog, which include the titles “Money,” “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Comfortably Numb.” Numerous BMG clients achieved success in the period, among them Rick Astley, whose new album went to number one in the UK charts. In total, BMG-signed musicians and songwriters were involved in 19 Grammy awards in the United States, 19 Echo awards in Germany, and twelve Bumas in the Netherlands.
Arvato recorded a positive first-half business performance, growing both its revenues and earnings. Revenues increased by 3.6 percent to €1.9 billion (H1 2015: €1.8 billion). The three biggest Solution Groups CRM, SCM and Financial Solutions all achieved organic growth. Operating EBITDA grew by 26.8 percent to €180 million (H1 2015: €142 million); all Solution Groups contributed to this increase.
The services businesses grouped in Arvato CRM posted a powerful performance in the first half of 2016 and contributed significantly to Arvato’s revenue and earnings growth. Besides traditional customer service by phone, the focus was on developing alternative customer communication channels, such as social media and (video) chat. In addition, new international customers were won in the IT/Internet and tourism sectors. A new service center with space for around 1,400 employees was opened in Gurgaon, India.
Arvato SCM Solutions further expanded its existing national and international customer relationships during the reporting period, and implemented projects with new clients. It also expanded its network of European logistics sites, including by commissioning a new distribution center in Gennep, the Netherlands.
The financial services businesses also developed positively in the first half of 2016. Beyond stable growth in business in Germany, this development was fueled in particular by an excellent performance in the business with BPO services for major international clients. To further strengthen innovation, an IT development and innovation center was opened in Tallinn, and a robotics lab established in Dublin.
The IT services provider Arvato Systems recorded a constantly high demand for solutions related to application development and digital transformation. All of the digital marketing business units developed positively; the DeutschlandCard multi-partner program in particular showed profitable growth.
Bertelsmann Printing Group
Since January 1, 2016, all of Bertelsmann’s global offset and gravure printing operations, and several other service and production businesses, have been grouped in a new division: the Bertelsmann Printing Group. The group was able to make important progress on its integration during the first half of the year and successfully stood its ground in a challenging market environment. Its revenues declined by 5.3 percent to €774 million (H1 2015: €817 million), mainly due to the sale of the Spanish operations completed in 2015. Adjusted for portfolio changes and exchange rate effects, revenues were roughly on par with the previous year. The group’s operating EBITDA increased significantly by 17.5 percent to €47 million (H1 2015: €40 million), thanks to improved utilization of production capacity as a result of the acquisition of new customers and to successful cost-cutting measures.
The Bertelsmann Printing Group’s offset printing businesses remained stable at a good earnings level in the first six months. Europe’s leading offset printing company, Mohn Media, upheld the good revenues and profitability of the previous year.
The gravure printing operations pooled in the Prinovis group developed positively and contributed higher revenue and earnings than in the first half of 2015. In the UK, efforts to acquire new customers were successful. This will contribute to long-term capacity utilization at the Liverpool site and will also benefit the Prinovis printing plants in Germany.
Despite continued intense competition in the field of letterpress printing, the Bertelsmann Printing Group’s US printers were able to increase both their revenues and earnings. Declines in paperback production were compensated by expanding the business with innovative print products to new industries.
As expected, revenues in storage media replication declined due to the closure of the US site in Weaverville at the beginning of 2016. The businesses at the group’s primary location in Gütersloh bucked the general market trend, increasing their production volumes, revenues and earnings. This development was due among other things to the UHD production business launched in spring.
Bertelsmann Education Group
During the reporting period, Bertelsmann continued the expansion of its education-related activities in the e-learning (health and technology) and online services sectors. In September 2015, these businesses were merged into the Bertelsmann Education Group, which has operated as an independent division since January 1, 2016.
In the first six months of the year, those businesses, which Bertelsmann has fully consolidated, saw a 28 percent increase in revenues to €64 million (H1 2015: €50 million). The division’s operating EBITDA, meanwhile, declined to €-13 million (H1 2015: €-3 million), primarily due to scheduled start-up losses for further business expansion, transformation costs at Alliant International University and equity pickup of HotChalk losses.
In particular, the e-learning provider Relias Learning recorded a positive performance, growing both organically and through acquisitions. The Bertelsmann subsidiary added new customers, whose employees completed approximately 15 million online courses in the first six months of the current year. During the reporting period, the company also took over Assessment & Intelligence Systems, a Canadian company specializing in training for homecare, and started up operations in the UK.
The online learning provider Udacity, in which Bertelsmann owns a stake, also expanded its business internationally and recently began offering its Nanodegree range in China, India and Germany.
The online education platform HotChalk grew with existing and new partner universities. There are some 6,600 students currently enrolled at seven universities in programs supported by HotChalk.
Alliant International University, which specializes in psychology, continued its transformation; around 3,500 students are currently studying at the university’s eleven campuses.
Bertelsmann’s four digital funds, grouped into the new division Bertelsmann Investments since the beginning of this year, have further expanded their portfolios of startups around the world. Through Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI), Bertelsmann Brazil Investments (BBI), Bertelsmann India Investments (BII), and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI), Bertelsmann is invested in 125 companies as of June 30, 2016. The business development of Bertelsmann Investments is determined mainly on the basis of EBIT, which increased to €42 million (H1 2015: €-7 million). Capital gains from exits of Bertelsmann Investments shareholdings – primarily at BAI – thus contributed significantly to the Group’s earnings.
In China, BAI invested in ten new companies during the reporting period, and also participated in follow-on financing rounds for companies including the fitness app Keep and the dating platform Tantan.
In India, Bertelsmann strengthened its activities in strategically relevant business segments by acquiring stakes in the e-commerce enabler KartRocket, the social fashion network Roposo, and the fintech company Lendingkart. BII also made follow-on investments in existing companies such as Pepperfry, WizIQ and iNurture.
In Brazil, BBI together with its strategic partner Bozano Investimentos advanced the Group’s expansion in higher education through its investment in the online education business Medcel, which provides preparation courses for medical students.
During the reporting period, BDMI’s investments included the acquisition of stakes in the video platform Vemba, the nextgeneration publisher Inverse, the VR startup Visionary VR in the United States, and the VR startup Splash in Germany, amongst others.
All platforms contributed to identifying digital trends and supporting innovative portfolio companies in their development.