Bertelsmann Increases Group Profit by Over 30 Percent to €1.5 Billion in 2020

*Operating EBITDA over €3 billion for the first time
*Group profit above €1 billion for sixth consecutive year
*Revenues exceed €17 billion
*Net financial debt significantly reduced
*Significant progress in strategy implementation
*Investments expanded to around 260 digital and startup companies
*Thomas Rabe announces investment campaign

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the financial year 2020 was a successful one for Bertelsmann. The international media, services, and education company benefited from the strong quality of its business portfolio and high proportion of digital business models. While the advertising-financed businesses and print businesses suffered corona-related losses, book publishing and services in particular grew significantly. Overall, Bertelsmann recorded a revenue decline in the low single-digit percentage range, record operating EBITDA of €3.1 billion, and Group profitof €1.5 billion, 34 percent above the previous year’s figure. Strategic milestones during the financial year included the completion of the full acquisition of Penguin Random House in April and the announcement of the acquisition of the renowned U.S. publisher Simon & Schuster in November.

Thomas Rabe, Chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, said: “2020 was an exceptional year, which we closed with strong results despite the corona pandemic. We recorded revenue declines primarily in the second quarter, but in the second half of the year nearly all businesses were seeing growth again. Bertelsmann achieved record EBITDA of €3.1 billion in 2020, the first time it exceeded the three-billion-euro mark. Alongside RTL Group, we have built up two other major earnings mainstays in recent years with Penguin Random House and Arvato. For the sixth consecutive year, Group profit exceeded the billion-euro threshold, this time significantly, reaching €1.5 billion.”

Thomas Rabe continued: “Bertelsmann reduced costs early on in the corona pandemic and secured the company’s liquidity. Priority was given at all times to protecting our employees, many of whom have been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic. Fortunately, there were very few infections in our workplace.”

Bertelsmann’s Group revenues declined moderately last year by 4.1 percent to €17.3 billion (previous year: €18.0 billion). The organic decline in revenues amounted to 1.7 percent. The advertising-financed businesses and print businesses in particular recorded corona-related revenue declines in the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, almost all divisions were back in the black, especially in the final quarter. The proportion of digital businesses was further expanded, and stood at 53 percent.

Operating EBITDA reached a new record level of €3.1 billion (previous year: €2.9 billion). Thanks to a strong operating performance, especially from the Penguin Random House publishing group and the services subsidiary Arvato, as well as capital gains from real estate sales, the operating result rose above the €3 billion mark for the first time.

Group profit increased by 34 percent to €1.5 billion (previous year: €1.1 billion) – its highest level since 2006, and above the billion-euro mark for the sixth consecutive year.

Thomas Rabe: “The fact that Bertelsmann is doing so well commercially today is the result of the execution of our corporate strategy in recent years. New challenges now require new answers, and so in the future Bertelsmann will focus on five strategic growth priorities: National Media Champions, Global Content, Global Services, Online Education, and the Investment Portfolio.”
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