Most international of all multimedia - corporations, founded in 1835 by Carl Bertelsmann, a small time printer supporting the local protestant church with his first books. In family hands since then, it now sports an impressive array of TV-Stations, Random House, Arista, BMG, numerous publishers, the doomed Napster and Lycos and the amazon.com wannabe, bol.com.

The majority of shares is owned by its own in-house liberal thinktank, the Bertelsmann-Foundation to avoid hostile and friendly takeovers which would dilute its unusual focus on employees welfare as a nod to its protestant ethics.

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