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Bertelsmann AG

Bertelsmann is a transnational media corporation founded in 1835, based in Gütersloh, Germany. Corporate divisions are the European broadcaster RTL (23 television and 14 radio stations in Europe), the Gruner und Jahr (G+J) magazine publisher (biggest in Europe and second biggest world wide), the Bertelsmann Music Group BMG, the book publishers Random House (popular literature) and BertelsmannSpringer (science), as well as further subdivisions and trade marks.

Bertelsmann AG is situated in 51 countries and employs over 80.000 workers. In 2002 the all over cash-flow was 18.312 Mio. Euro.

Bertelsmann made headlines with buying Napster some years ago.


The C. Bertelsmann Verlag was founded as print shop come publishing house in July, 1835 by Carl Bertelsmann. First Bertelsmann concentrated on Christian songs and books. In 1849 led by Carl Bertelsmann's son, Heinrich, the publishing programme was extended into the area of novels. The following years Bertelsmann expands steadily. In 1939 the publishing house employs 400 people.

After World War II, in which the publishing house was closed for some time, the company was re-founded by Reinhard Mohn, fifth generation of the Bertelsmann family. In the 1950s, Bertelsmann expands with the Bertelsmann Lesering (readers ring) and the founding of the LP label Ariola, which marks the entry in the music market. In 1964 Bertelsmann buys the Ufa Filmproduktionsgesellschaft as entry in the movie market. Ufa is selled in the 1970s. In the 1970s, Bertelsmann buys into the Gruner und Jahr publishing house (newspapers, magazines), in 1973 beocming majority owner.

Since the 1980s, Bertelsmann expands internationaly: 1979 it buys the american Arista label, 1980 Bantam Books, later the label RCA and the publishing house Doubleday. After 1990 the expansion continuies in eastern europe.

The activities in the music market are bundled into the label BMG.

In 1993, Reinhard Mohn as owner of Bertelsmann moves 68,8% of his Bertelsmann AG stock over to the Bertelsmann foundation.

From 1995 to 2000 Bertelsmann cooperates with AOL in Europe as player in the multi media market.

In 1995 the Ufa Film- und Fernseh-GmbH fusions with CLT, Luxembourg. The result is known as RTL Group, the biggest private radio and TV broadcaster in Europe.

In 1998 Thomas Middelhoff becomes CEO of Bertelsmann. He buys the Random House publishing house and concentrates book publishing in the USA under this label.

In February 2001, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, one of Belgium’s top ten companies and 25% owned by Power Corporation of Canada of Montreal, Quebec, acquired control of Bertelsmann AG. André Desmarais, President and Chief Executive Officer, Power Corporation of Canada, was named to the Board.

2003, the new CEO Gunter Thielen expands the music branch BMG with the buying of Zomba Records.

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