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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 13:20 GMT
Bertelsmann prepared for listing
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Bertelsmann, the German media giant, has said it is ready to list its shares in what would be one of the largest media flotations in history.

The firm said it was "prepared" for the move after a leading investor indicated that it wanted to sell its stake.

Belgian investment firm GBL has the right to request an IPO from May under the terms of a deal which saw it buy 25% of Bertelsmann in 2001.

Bertelsmann owns publisher Random House and 50% of music label Sony BMG Music.

'Facing reality'

Analysts said Bertelsmann could be valued at up to 24bn euros ($29bn, 16bn) in any flotation, thought most likely to happen next year.

We have made the necessary efforts in the last years to prepare for a possible IPO
Dr Gunter Thielen,

The Mohn family, which owns the bulk of Bertelsmann's shares, was thought to have been sceptical of a stock market listing.

But Bertelsmann confirmed it was ready to consider such an option.

"We have made the necessary efforts in the last years to prepare for a possible IPO," said chief executive Dr Gunter Thielen.

"In short, we are prepared for an IPO."

The world's fourth largest media company, Bertelsmann also owns European broadcaster RTL Group and magazine publisher Gruner & Jahr among other assets.

Favourable conditions

GBL revealed on Friday that it would ask Bertelsmann to list its shares assuming market conditions were favourable.

"The option we had is that, as of May, we have the right to ask for a listing," managing director Thierry de Rudder told Reuters.

"That is what we want to do."

The Mohn family controls Bertelsmann through a charitable foundation, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, set up by company founder Reinhard Mohn.

The foundation is currently headed by Liz Mohn.

"The IPO is certainly not her preferred option," said Harald Heider, an analyst with DZ Bank.

"But she has had perhaps to face reality."

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