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Bertelsmann achieved strong growth in revenues, Operating EBITDA and Group net income in the first half of 2015. The international media, services and education company also made further progress in implementing its growth strategy.
First-half Group revenues from continuing operations grew by 2.5 percent year-on-year, from €7.8 billion to €8.0 billion, their highest level since 2007. The trade book publisher Penguin Random House achieved strong revenue growth, driven by numerous bestsellers as well as positive currency effects. The successful performance of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, RTL Group’s digital businesses and Arvato’s financial services also contributed to the increase in revenues, while the continued expansion of BMG and the development of the education business also had a positive effect. In this way, the Group more than compensated for a revenue decrease of nearly €300 million attributable to the withdrawal from structurally declining businesses. Operating EBITDA once again exceeded the high level of the previous year, reaching almost €1.1 billion, a new record high (H1 2014: €1.0 billion). In particular, the book-publishing business in the U.S., the German TV business, several service businesses, BMG, and the online education provider Relias Learning recorded improved results. On the other hand, there were startup losses for new businesses. The EBITDA margin was 13.2 percent (H1 2014: 13.0 percent). Group net income rose by nearly 55 percent, from €257 million in the same period last year to €398 million. This is attributable to the higher operating result, lower charges from special items, and a lower tax expense than in the first half of 2014.
Thomas Rabe, Chairman and CEO of Bertelsmann, said: “We are very satisfied with the development of the past months. Our revenues are the highest they have been since 2007, and the operating result is the best in Bertelsmann’s history. This signifies how well we are progressing in making Bertelsmann a faster-growing, more digital and more international company. In the first half of 2015, we achieved further progress toward these goals; our education business has already taken clear shape. Our highly profitable core businesses form a strong foundation from which we are expanding into new growth areas. We will continue to invest in the months ahead to move forward on our path to becoming a ‘New Bertelsmann’.”
Rabe emphasized that Bertelsmann has made significant headway in all four strategic priorities – strengthening the core, digital transformation, development of growth platforms and expansion in growth regions – in the current year.
The continued successful integration of Penguin and Random House in recent months has particularly contributed to strengthening the core. Both book-publishing houses merged in 2013 under the entrepreneurial management of Bertelsmann. Gruner + Jahr expanded its range of magazines with new titles such as “Walden,” “Stern Crime” and “National Geographic Traveler.” The business units of the service provider Arvato received more entrepreneurial autonomy upon restructuring in July. In addition, Bertelsmann withdrew as planned from structurally declining businesses such as the club and direct marketing activities, and sold its printing plants in Spain. Other measures to increase the earnings of Bertelsmann’s core businesses were also implemented.