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Bertelsmann seals bookstore deal in China
( 2003-12-04 01:18) (China Daily)

Germany-based media conglomerate Bertelsmann AG launched a joint venture company Wednesday by acquiring a 40 per cent share in a Beijing-based private retail book store chain.

The new company is the first nationwide joint venture retail book store chain in China, following the State Press and Publication Administration's release of a provision this May giving the green light for Sino-foreign joint ventures in the retail and wholesale book business, in compliance with China's commitment to the World Trade Organization.

The remaining 60 per cent is owned by the Chinese partner -- the 21st Century Book Chain Co -- China's first private national bookstore chain, which owns 18 outlets in 10 major cities, including Beijing, Nanjing, Shenzhen and Xiamen.

The move is seen as a win-win success, but neither side would reveal the total amount involved in the transaction.

The new company will offer a full range of products and services nationwide, from a wide selection of books, audio and video products, to greeting cards and gifts, according to Christina Fang, general manager of the 21st Century Book Chain Co.

But in its beginning stage, the joint venture will concentrate its business in Beijing and Shanghai and neighbouring regions.

"We are going to launch three new stores in downtown Beijing and one or two new stores in Shanghai before the end of the year,'' said Fang.

According to the deal, six to seven of the 18 outlets owned by the 21st Century Book Chain Co will join the new joint venture following a restructuring, and a number of the remaining outlets will be shut down and some of them will be sold off to rivals, said Luo Ruiren, chairman of the 21st Century Book Chain Co.

Bertelsmann refuted the widely-speculated rumour that the company is in talks with Chinese partners for a joint venture publishing house.

At the moment, Bertelsmann is going to focus on the success of the joint venture and those are purely rumours, said Christian Unger, president in China of DirectGroup Bertelsmann -- the third pillar of Bertelsmann AG, alongside its content and media services.

Opened in 1995, the Bertelsmann book club, the major subsidiary of DirectGroup Bertelsmann in China, is playing a leading role in retailing books and audiovisual products in the country.

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