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LUXEMBURG / HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) – The RTL media group takes over the German magazine businesses and brands of the Hamburg magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr. The conclusion of the deal worth 230 million euros is scheduled for January 1, 2022, as the RTL Group announced on Friday in Luxembourg. The RTL Group and the Bertelsmann Group, to which the publisher belongs, agreed to take over the core business of Gruner + Jahr.
Gruner + Jahr is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bertelsmann Group. The publishing house includes titles such as “Stern”, “Geo”, “Brigitte”, “Essen & Trinken”, “Schöner Wohnen” and “Gala”. It also includes younger brands such as “Chefkoch”. In 2020, the Hamburg magazine publisher’s turnover was around 1.14 billion euros.
Bertelsmann and RTL boss Thomas Rabe spoke of a merger of RTL Germany and Gruner + Jahr, the aim was to create a cross-media “champion”. An organization is to be created for this, and details are to be determined in the coming months. Combined, both units would have had a turnover of 2.63 billion euros in 2020. Rabe emphasized that the merger is not a cost, but a growth program.
“The result is a journalistic powerhouse with the content expertise of more than 1500 journalists,” said Rabe. The merger would enable both sides to better realize their potential. In cross-media editorial offices, for example, exclusive content such as documentation should be created. The aim is to play out larger research across several media genres. There will probably be overarching departments, the identity of the individual brands is to be retained. In the future, synergies of around 100 million euros could be achieved annually, the majority of which are sales-driven, i.e. growth-driven. Nothing has been known about the future management structure of the organization.
However, RTL does not take over all of the Hamburg publisher’s business. For example, Bertelsmann’s 25 percent stake in the Spiegel group and the stake in the DDV media group, to which the “Sächsische Zeitung” belongs, will remain with Bertelsmann.
According to Rabe, Hamburg will remain the headquarters of Gruner + Jahr. In the future there will be a Gruner + Jahr Deutschland GmbH, to which the core publishing business of the publisher will be transferred. Around 1700 employees will be based in Hamburg and the other current locations, including 800 journalists. Big moves are not planned. The German Association of Journalists (DJV) asked RTL Group to keep the journalistic jobs in Hamburg and Berlin and their collective bargaining coverage after the takeover of Gruner + Jahr. The German Union of Journalists (DJU) made a similar statement at Verdi.
In the past few years, the publishing house Gruner + Jahr has withdrawn from foreign markets, such as the Netherlands, Spain and Austria. They wanted to concentrate more on the domestic market. Some time ago it became known that the publisher is also separating from its French magazine division with the subsidiary Prisma Media, which is considered to be the leading consumer magazine publisher in France.
Bertelsmann holds the majority in the listed RTL Group, which operates in several countries. The broadcasting group contributes the largest proportion of sales in the Bertelsmann group portfolio. The RTL Group assumes that its own sales in 2021 will be 6.5 billion euros.
In February it became known that the Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and the Hamburg magazine publisher are exploring a stronger cooperation. Various options should be considered. In addition to closer cooperation in various fields, the aim was also to develop a joint growth strategy.
Bertelsmann has been relying on the content-related interlinking of corporate divisions for a long time. This can be clearly seen in the media sector: magazine brands, TV and the audio sector exchange content and enter into collaborations for projects. This is how, for example, joint documentaries or podcasts are created. This is also based on the “Champions” strategy – that is, size in a market environment. Bertelsmann boss Rabe has repeatedly emphasized in the past few months that he wants to create national “champions” in European markets in order to be able to regionally counteract international streaming competitors such as Netflix and Amazon. Rabe said to RTL and Gruner + Jahr: “We want to move from selective cooperation in individual areas to systematic cooperation.”
RTL also examined options for other countries, with different results: In France, the RTL Group holds shares in the M6 television group. This is to merge with the French broadcasting group TF1 by the end of 2022. The RTL group would initially bring its entire share into the merged company and then sell shares to the TF1 owner Bouygues. In the end, RTL Group wants to be the second largest shareholder in the new group.
In the Netherlands, RTL Nederland plans to merge with John de Mol’s media company Talpa Network in 2022. The RTL streaming service Videoland is to play a strategically important role. In Belgium, RTL wants to part with its TV and radio stations./rin/ngu/DP/eas