Bertelsmann is planning to develop new business areas in the healthcare sector. “A business area that we have been looking at for some time is digital health with a focus on the USA. We see great opportunities in this market,” said CEO Thomas Rabe of the German Press Agency.

Specifically, it could be about services for hospitals, for example billing services. “We are looking at what opportunities there are in the USA. You would have to get started by purchasing a company,” added Rabe. The Bertelsmann boss did not rule out that a deal could be reached this year. “It’s about establishing new business areas in order to give Bertelsmann an even broader base.” Bertelsmann, headquartered in Gütersloh, is already active in the healthcare sector, for example in the areas of training and logistics.

Bertelsmann, with more than 80,000 employees worldwide, is best known for its media and book businesses. The portfolio includes the RTL Group including TV channels and magazines such as “Stern” and “Geo” as well as the book publishing group Penguin Random House. The group also includes business areas such as services from Arvato, the BMG music division and educational and investment activities.

USA as future largest single market, growth plans in India

The US market is the second largest market for Bertelsmann. Rabe assumes that the USA will be Bertelsmann’s largest single market in two to three years. Bertelsmann also plans to grow in India, Brazil and Mexico.

The group published its annual figures for 2023. Sales exceeded the 20 billion euro mark for the second time in a row and remained largely stable at the previous year’s level at 20.2 billion. Adjusted operating earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) were 3.1 billion euros (previous year: 3.2 billion euros). According to the information, an increase in the education business and in the service sector largely compensated for a decline at the RTL Group, which, like other media companies, has been suffering from the advertising slump for some time.

At 1.3 billion euros, the consolidated result was again above the billion euro threshold and increased compared to 2022 (1.1 billion euros). According to Bertelsmann, the sale of shares in the international call center services business Majorel contributed to this. Rabe said: “There were a number of special effects. Even without these, the consolidated result would have been over the one billion mark.”

Closure of gravure locations and share sales

There’s a lot going on at Bertelsmann. The Ahrensburg gravure printing site near Hamburg was closed at the end of January. The step had been announced for some time. Rabe said: “The gravure printing activities at Bertelsmann ended after several decades. This is the end of a big business for us.” A total of six locations in Germany and Great Britain have been closed over the years. Gravure printing is relevant for magazines and catalogs, for example.

Bertelsmann also wants to sell its shares in the DDV media group with “Sächsischer Zeitung” to the Madsack media group. However, the group would like to hold on to its stake in the news magazine “Der Spiegel”. Rabe told the dpa: “We have no intention of giving up our stake. On the contrary: we want to hold on to it permanently.”