Bertelsmann to cut stake in broadcaster RTL

German media giant Bertelsmann said Thursday it will cut its stake in Luxembourg-based television and broadcasting giant RTL by selling shares on the stock exchange.

Bertelsmann to cut stake in broadcaster RTL
Photo: DPA

“Bertelsmann confirms its intention to reduce its shareholding in RTL Group by way of a secondary public offering,” the German group said in a statement.

“The transaction would result in a significant increase of the free float in RTL Group shares, with Bertelsmann maintaining a qualified majority of at least 75 percent.”

Bertelsmann currently holds a stake of 92.3 percent in RTL, with 7.7 percent in free float.

The shares would be offered “to private and institutional investors in Germany and Luxembourg through a public offering,” the statement said.

“Outside of these countries, it is intended to offer shares to institutional investors via private placements.”

RTL, which is listed on the Luxembourg stock exchange and Euronext in Brussels, said it intends to list its shares in Frankfurt, too, with the first day of trading for the offered shares expected “before the summer break.”

The fact that Bertelsmann intends to maintain a stake of at least 75 percent shows that “Bertelsmann remains convinced of the highly attractive and positive long-term outlook for RTL Group’s free-to-air TV and radio broadcasting as well as TV production businesses,” the broadcaster said.

“Bertelsmann is and will remain the majority shareholder in RTL Group and will continue to support the strategic development of our business. The reduction of Bertelsmann’s shareholding would significantly increase the free float of RTL Group shares, enabling a more diverse ownership base to share in our success,” said RTL’s co-chief executives Anke Schaferkordt and Guillaume de Posch.

Because the shares were being offered by Bertelsmann, “RTL Group will not raise new capital in connection with the public offering and will not receive any of the proceeds from it,” RTL added.


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German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism

German daily Bild published a cut-out-and-use kippa on Monday in a bid to fight rising anti-Semitism, after Jews were warned about the potential dangers of wearing the traditional skullcap in Germany.

German newspaper Bild prints cut-out kippa to fight anti-Semitism
A man wearing a kippa in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Over the weekend, Felix Klein, the German government's commissioner on anti-Semitism, said he “cannot advise Jews to wear the kippa everywhere all the time in Germany”, in an interview given to the Funke regional press group.

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Israeli President Reuven Rivlin voiced shock at Klein's warning and said it was a “capitulation to anti-Semitism” and evidence that Jews are unsafe in Germany.

Bild, Germany's top-selling daily newspaper, waded into the debate, calling on readers to “stand in solidarity with (their) Jewish neighbours” by making “their own kippa”, bearing the star of David, to “raise the flag against anti-Semitism”.

Rejecting the warning to leave off the kippa “seven decades after the Holocaust”, Bild's chief editor Julian Reichelt wrote: “There is only one answer to that: No, it cannot be the case!

“If that is so, then we have failed in the face of our history,” he said.

Urging readers to cut out the skullcap and wear it, Reichelt stressed that “the kippa belongs to Germany.”

Germany, like other western countries, has watched with alarm as anti-Semitic and other racist hate speech and violence have increased in recent years while the political climate has coarsened and grown more

Anti-Semitic crimes rose by 20 percent in Germany last year, according to Interior Ministry data which blamed nine out of 10 cases on the extreme right.

The arrival in parliament of the far-right AfD, whose leaders openly question Germany's culture of atonement for World War II atrocities, has also contributed to the change in atmosphere.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has also deplored “another form of anti-Semitism” stemming from a major asylum-seeker influx, with many coming from Muslim countries like Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq.

“That the number of anti-Semitic crimes is increasing should be a cause of great concern for all of us in Germany,” Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Monday.

“It is the task of the state to ensure that everyone can move freely with a kippa anywhere in our country and we stand by that responsibility.”

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has already issued several warnings about wearing the kippa in public.

In one prominent case last year, a 19-year-old Syrian man was convicted for assault after lashing out with his belt at an Israeli man wearing a Jewish kippa skullcap while shouting “yahudi”, Jew in Arabic.