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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 22:08 GMT 23:08 UK
Bertelsmann 'poised for media deals'
BertelsmannSpringer grab
Up for grabs?

The German media group Bertelsmann has agreed to sell its science and trade publishing group to British private equity groups, according to reports.

There is also speculation that it is nearing a merger of its music divisions with those of its media rival AOL Time Warner.

Analysts have warned that the rumours surrounding the group could be far from a deal.

"You have five music companies and more than 25 possibilities," said one banker.

"Nevertheless, I would expect to see at least one deal this year."

Meanwhile the Reuters news service suggested a deal to sell its BertelsmannSpringer publishing arm could be announced within days.

Publishing deal?

Bertelsmann has been in talks with potential buyers for months in a bid to raise cash to pay down its debt.

Lots of talks are going on throughout the music industry
Bertelsmann spokesman

Market watchers say it has also been trying to streamline its media empire to focus on television and music.

Reports have suggested private equity groups Cinven and Candover are paying more than a billion euros ($1.2bn) for BertelsmannSpringer, which is one of the world's biggest trade and science publishers.

The division prints more than 700 trade magazines and 4,000 new book titles a year.

It was put up for sale late last year as Bertelsmann looked at ways to cut its 2.7bn euros ($3.1bn;1.9bn) debt pile.

Keep talking

Elsewhere, talk is focusing on Bertelsmann's music division, which has been badly hit by sliding sales and increased piracy in the industry.

A merger with AOL Time Warner's music arm would bring together a raft of high profile artists, including Madonna and Latin group Santana.

However, any discussions between the two groups are believed to be just one of the potential deals being thrashed out by the world's struggling music industry.

A Bertelsmann spokesman said:

"Lots of talks are going on throughout the music industry but we do not comment on speculation."

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