Although advertising markets across Europe were mostly in decline, Europe’s leading entertainment group RTL Group was able to significantly increase its profitability in financial year 2013. Revenues reached €5.9 billion after €6.0 billion in the previous year, representing a 1.9 percent decrease. This revenue development reflects robust core businesses despite negative currency effects and lower revenues for the production arm Fremantle Media. In operating EBIT, another record result by Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland and the strong performance of the Dutch TV channels more than offset the impact of the negative development of advertising markets in many parts of Europe. Only the German TV advertising market showed slight growth.
Operating EBIT increased by 6.8 percent to a new record level of €1.1 billion (previous year: €1.1 billion). This pushed the return on sales to 19.3 percent (previous year: 17.7 percent). Operating EBITDA increased slightly to €1.3 billion (previous year: €1.3 billion). At year-end, RTL Group had 11,589 employees (December 31, 2012: 11,931). RTL Group succeeded in defending most of its leading positions in the audience markets. In France, the Netherlands, Hungary and Croatia, RTL Group’s families of channels grew their share of the TV ad sales market.
Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland increased both its revenues and earnings. RTL Television’s flagship broadcaster remains the clear market leader in the main target group. The French Groupe M6 achieved lower revenues, partly because of the declining advertising market. Operating EBIT declined due to start-up losses for the new digital channel 6ter. Audience shares remained largely stable despite the market entry of new competitors. RTL Nederland grew its revenues and operating EBIT despite a shrinking advertising market, and scored higher viewer ratings.
The production arm Fremantle Media registered continued global interest in its major talent shows and invested in the development of new formats. Revenues fell mainly due to currency effects and because of the cancellation of formats in individual territories. Operating EBIT was slightly down year on year. In November, Fremantle Media acquired the Danish production company Miso Film, which specializes in series and TV movies.
In the growth market of Asia, RTL Group partnered with CBS Studios International to initiate the establishment of two new channels. The first channel, RTL CBS Entertainment HD, made its debut in 2013 in Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The launch of the second channel will follow in the spring of 2014.
In Croatia, RTL Hrvatska established a new children’s channel, which went on air in January 2014 and has scored excellent ratings from the start.
RTL Group’s digital business also continued to be greatly expanded. The Group acquired a majority stake in BroadbandTV, one of the largest multichannel networks on YouTube, and also invested in the leading online video network for fashion and beauty StyleHaul, the German YouTube network Divimove, and the Dutch video-on-demand provider Videoland. The Group’s various online platforms and mobile applications recorded high growth rates.
RTL Group has been additionally listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange since the end of April 2013. Bertelsmann reduced its holdings and has since held 75.1 percent of the shares in the company.
Penguin Random House
For Random House, 2013 was the year of the historic merger of all its divisions outside Germany with Pearson’s trade publishing division Penguin Group. The formation of Penguin Random House was completed on July 1, and the multiyear integration of the two units is now underway. Bertelsmann holds 53 percent of the shares in the world’s largest trade book publisher, while Pearson holds 47 percent.
This year-end consolidated revenue of €2.7 billion for the combined company reflects a full year of Random House, including Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Random House, and a half-year of the Penguin Group. Total sales were 23.9 percent above Random House’s previous year’s revenue (€2.1 billion). Adjusted for currency and portfolio effects, revenues decreased compared with the record year 2012, which was dominated by the exceptional success of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy. Operating EBIT fell 4.9 percent from the high level of the previous year – partly due to depreciations in connection with the initial inclusion of intangible assets at Penguin – to €309 million (previous year: €325 million). Return on sales came to 11.6 percent (previous year: 15.2 percent). Operating EBITDA increased to €363 million (previous year: €352 million). At the end of the year, Penguin Random House had 11,838 employees (December 31, 2012, Random House: 5,712).
Penguin Random House’s biggest new release was Dan Brown’s “Inferno,” selling almost six million copies in its English-language territories in seven months. Other megasellers included Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” “And The Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green and John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row.” Demand for English-, German- and Spanish-language editions of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy continued to be strong with more than seven million print, digital and audiobook copies sold in 2013.
The US company placed 261 titles on the “New York Times” hardcover and paperback bestseller lists from July to December, 27 of them at number one. During the same period, Penguin Random House UK placed 14 number one titles on the bestseller lists of the “Sunday Times.” In Germany, Verlagsgruppe Random House attained major growth in its digital publishing business, achieving first-time double-digit percentage of overall sales revenues with e-books. The division’s biggest-selling title of the year was “Die Analphabetin, die rechnen konnte” by Jonas Jonasson. A solid business performance in Latin America and a strong portfolio of Spanishlanguage bestsellers offset the impact of the difficult economy in Spain, where the publishing unit has operated under the name Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial since November. In India and South Africa, Penguin Random House completed the purchase of their respective co-partners’ ownership stakes.
With new apps, the increasing integration of social media into book marketing and growing e-book downloads, Penguin Random House has advanced its leadership in the transformation to digital. During the reporting period, the Group sold more than 100 million e-books worldwide, and more than 77,000 titles are now internationally available in digital form.
Many Penguin Random House authors received prestigious literary awards in 2013, including Alice Munro, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Group’s authors also won four Pulitzer Prizes, a National Book Award in the United States, and for Verlagsgruppe Random House, the German Book Prize.
Gruner + Jahr
At Gruner + Jahr, the financial year was shaped by a personnel, organizational and strategic realignment to transform the existing printing and publishing company into a “house of content” with high-quality print and digital offerings for specific target groups. On the commercial side, Gruner + Jahr reported a significant fall in revenues and operating result during the reporting period; this was against a backdrop of declining ad sales revenues, the partial discontinuation of its business media along with other disposals, increased investment in the digital business and a decline in the international business. Revenues reached €2.1 billion after €2.2 billion the previous year (-6.9 percent). Operating EBIT was down by 13.1 percent to €146 million (previous year: €168 million). Return on sales decreased to 7.1 percent (previous year: 7.6 percent). Operating EBITDA was €193 million against €213 million in the previous year. At year-end, Gruner + Jahr employed 10,819 people (December 31, 2012: 11,585). Since April 2013, Gruner + Jahr has been jointly managed by Julia Jäkel (CEO), Stephan Schäfer and Oliver Radtke.
G+J Germany managed to improve its result year on year. Sales revenues dipped in line with market conditions but adjusted for portfolio changes the advertising business developed positively, bucking the market trend. In Germany the business structures were fundamentally changed. With its realignment along eight Communities of Interest, G+J is resolutely focusing on the interests of its readers, users and customers. For instance, its strong position in the Living, Food and Family communities was expanded with investments in digital offers such as the Home and Furniture community Roomido, the online store for high-end foods Delinero and the online store for baby and children’s clothing Tausendkind. “Chefkoch” and “Flow” enhanced the print portfolio of the Food and Women communities with two innovative new titles. G+J Media Sales added market share in the ad sales market, and both G+J’s digital marketer EMS and the performance marketer Ligatus recorded continued dynamic growth.
Prisma Media’s magazine business in France declined due to difficult market conditions. The expansion of the digital business was successfully advanced, including through targeted acquisitions. For instance, the reporting period saw the acquisition of the two digital ad sales houses Mob Value and P Comme Performance.
Verlagsgruppe News in Austria declined, underperforming the market mainly in the ad sales business. In the reporting year, its activities in Southern Europe continued to be affected by difficult macroeconomic conditions. The company sold off its operations in Poland and parts of the operations in Southeastern Europe.
Gruner + Jahr’s activities in China reported declines due to a first-time reduction in the Chinese ad sales market. In the United States, the offset printing company Brown Printing saw a fall in revenues and earnings due to lower utilization. The business of Dresdner Druck- und Verlagshaus was mostly stable.
During the reporting period, G+J journalists and authors won a variety of prestigious awards for their work; in Germany alone, they won more than any other publisher.
The international service provider Arvato delivered a robust business performance in financial year 2013. Revenues remained stable at €4.4 billion (previous year: €4.4 billion). Operating EBIT remained stable at €244 million (previous year: €244 million). Return on sales thus remained at 5.5 percent (previous year: 5.5 percent). Operating EBITDA increased to €401 million (previous year: €391 million). There was a management changeover at the top of Arvato: Achim Berg has led the group as Chief Executive Officer since April 2013. A new organizational structure arranges the businesses by Solution Groups and countries, and a central Key Account Management system was introduced for major international clients. At year-end, Arvato employed 66,410 people (December 31, 2012: 63,627).
During the reporting period Arvato registered significant growth mainly at IT Services and supply chain management solutions for international customers in the Internet, high-tech and consumer goods sectors, as well as in China. Arvato’s acquisition of Gothia Financial Group, completed in June 2013, advanced its internationalization and turned it into the third-largest service provider in Europe in the rapidly growing market for business information and financial services.
Operating EBIT also reflects upfront costs for acquisitions and set-up costs for newly acquired customers in the supply chain management and e-commerce businesses.
In the reporting period, the customer relationship management business showed a positive development in Germany and Spain, and declined slightly in France. In South America, Asia and Africa, new offshore sites for customer communications solutions were established or expanded to increase competitiveness.
Arvato’s Print Services asserted its position in a difficult market environment. Revenues in Replication declined as expected. In Brazil and China, Arvato sold holdings in replication factories.
The development of Arvato’s businesses varied from region to region. For example, performance was satisfactory in the European core countries given the difficult economic situation. In the UK, a major new government services client, the Department for Transport, was acquired. The service activities in Spain saw profitable growth despite the economic crisis. Meanwhile, the services businesses in France were not quite able to maintain the previous year’s high levels. In the North American market, the portfolio of customers and locations was systematically culled to increase the profitability of the businesses. In Turkey, Arvato’s services businesses grew dynamically, and in China the company’s logistics network was expanded considerably yet again.
Arvato won prestigious awards in various countries around the world for its tailored customer solutions.
In 2013, Bertelsmann’s gravure and international offset printing activities, grouped into Be Printers, generated revenues of €1.1 billion in a difficult market environment, down 7.5 percent from the previous year (€1.2 billion). Operating EBIT declined by 29.3 percent to €41 million (previous year: €58 million), and return on sales thus amounted to 3.7 percent (previous year: 4.8 percent). Operating EBITDA decreased to €92 million (previous year: €115 million). At year-end, Be Printers employed 6,201 people (December 31, 2012: 6,571).
Declining print runs characterized Be Printers’ printing operations in the reporting period, as did continuing price pressure and high excess capacity in the industry. The group responded with new offers as well as various programs to increase efficiency and lower costs.
Specifically, the gravure division Prinovis realized savings in personnel costs and materials purchasing. Provisions for restructuring costs were formed for the planned closure of the Itzehoe site in April 2014. As a special item, these are not shown under operating EBIT. The fire at a gravure printing press in Dresden led to restrictions on production; at the same time, Prinovis received a compensation payment from the machine’s property insurance. As a special item, this is not shown under operating EBIT. In the UK, a major customer cut order volumes. Overall, revenues and earnings were down at Prinovis. During the reporting period, several of Prinovis’ print products and digital offers won industry awards for their high quality.
Be Printers’ Southern European printing companies did business in a difficult market environment that was further exacerbated by macroeconomic developments in Italy and Spain. The units recorded declining volumes. Management countered this with measures to increase sales and cut costs, for example, in the areas of procurement and IT. The merger of the Italian and German calendar businesses also improved productivity and competitiveness.
Be Printers Americas bucked the declining market development and kept its earnings stable. Growing business with clients outside the publishing industry – such as communications services for companies in the health-care sector – cushioned the decline in revenues. In 2013, major existing customers renewed their contracts with Be Printers Americas.
Corporate Investments/Corporate Center
In 2013, Corporate Investments, which includes all of Bertelsmann’s other operating activities, recorded significantly increased revenue of €582 million (previous year: €471 million) and operating EBIT of €-40 million (previous year: €-38 million). Operating EBITDA was €10 million compared with €-29 million in the previous year. The acquisition of full ownership of the BMG Music Rights subsidiary, completed in April 2013, helped to boost revenues. This was partly offset by declining revenues in the Club and Direct Marketing businesses. Operating EBIT reflects start-up losses, among other things for business expansion in the education sector, and a decline in earnings in the Club business. At year-end, Corporate Investments had 4,342 employees (December 31, 2012: 4,289).
Jointly established by Bertelsmann and KKR, the music rights company BMG has once again been fully owned by Bertelsmann since the end of March 2013 and grew strongly during the reporting period. BMG acquired several catalogs of song and master rights: Primary Wave, Sanctuary, Mute and Virgin/Famous. Numerous national and international artists signed new contracts including Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, Robbie Williams and the Backstreet Boys. BMG expanded its presence in all major music markets, including opening a branch in Canada.
In the reporting period, Bertelsmann invested in developing its new line of business: education. The University Ventures Fund, jointly established with other investors, expanded its international portfolio of holdings. Bertelsmann also made direct investments to increase its stake in Synergis Education, a service provider that supports academic institutions in establishing accredited online degree programs, and in the innovative US online education provider UniversityNow.
The Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) and Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) funds expanded their portfolios. For instance, BDMI joined RTL Group in investing in the online video network StyleHaul, which brought its holdings to a total of 49 at year-end. BAI acquired five new holdings – including providers of mobile payment services, car purchasing and cloud computing – and divested from three companies, realizing high capital gains in the process. The remaining portfolio, consisting of 20 holdings, developed very well. In India, two direct investments were made, including in the real estate portal indiaproperty.com. In Brazil, investments were also made in two online media start-ups.
Revenues in the Club business declined as planned in 2013. The operational business of the direct marketing company Inmediaone will be gradually phased out by mid-2014. The dismantling of the German Club continued with store closures, and the businesses in the Czech Republic and Slovakia were sold to a strategic investor.
The Corporate Center department, which comprises all of the Group’s Corporate Centers around the world, controlled and supported several large transactions in 2013, including the merger of Penguin and Random House into the world’s leading trade book publishing group and the incremental placement of RTL Group shares on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. Its work during the year also focused on the organization of a Management Meeting and “State of the Art Forum” in Silicon Valley, as well as the global employee survey. In the first half of 2013 the Bertelsmann Executive Board launched the operational excellence program, which is designed to monitor processes and structures in the financial, HR, IT and procurement departments across the Group. The program will support Group strategy by modernizing structures, improving efficiency and creating uniform standards of quality. It will be implemented in several stages over a period of up to five years.