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Media Concern Denies Magazine Report It Is Discussing Buying Control of CLT

December 21, 1995

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) _ Media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG denied Thursday a published report that it is in talks about buying the broadcasting group Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Telediffusion, also known as CLT.

But it said it was interested in buying a partial ownership if it were for sale. CLT’s biggest asset is the private German channel RTL.

Der Spiegel magazine said a group including Bertelsmann, French media company Havas SA and pay television company Canal Plus SA wanted to buy a controlling interest in CLT from Belgium’s Groupe Bruxelles Lambert SA.

The magazine said the companies plan to create a major European television concern.

A Bertelsmann spokeswoman, Ulrike Gruenrock-Kern, called the Spiegel article ``very speculative″ and said by telephone from the company’s Guetersloh headquarters that Bertelsmann was not in talks with GBL.

GBL declined comment on the magazine report.

A CLT spokeswoman would not address the report or say whether a controlling interest in the company was for sale. ``At the CLT level we make no comment about such speculation,″ said CLT spokeswoman Karin Schintgen from Luxembourg, where CLT is based.

According to the magazine, Bertelsmann’s supervisory board earmarked about $690 million on Dec. 1 to finance the purchase while its French partners each set aside similar amounts.

Gruenrock-Kern did not comment on that part of the Spiegel report.

CLT is indirectly controlled by GBL. Havas also holds a big share of CLT.

According to Der Spiegel, the Bertelsmann-Havas-Canal Plus alliance wants to purchase CLMM, a holding company 60 percent-owned by GBL and 40 percent by Havas. CLMM owns more than 50 percent of CLT through a holding company.

Bertelsmann said that, as far as it knows, GBL doesn’t plan to sell CLMM. ``Should the intention to sell (CLMM) arise, Bertelsmann would talk that over with possible partners,″ said Gruenrock-Kern.

CLT’s Schintgen said CLT was in talks with a number of players _ including Canal Plus and Bertelsmann _ about possible joint ventures.

``We are naturally in talks with them but that doesn’t mean we are not also talking with other partners,″ Schintgen said.