Risks and Opportunities

Risk Management System

Please refer to the 2019 Combined Management Report for a description of Bertelsmann’s risk management system (RMS) and the accounting-related RMS and internal control system (ICS).

Significant Changes in Risks Compared to the 2019 Combined Management Report

Please refer to the respective disclosures in the 2019 Combined Management Report for a description of the key risks to the Bertelsmann Group. Overall, as of June 30, 2020, the same Group risks are considered material as those existing as of December 31, 2019. However, the significance of individual types of risk in terms of Bertelsmann’s future business performance has changed. This is primarily due to an increase in risk around economic trends stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, which has become the most significant risk to the Group.

Strategic and Operational Risks

The risk position for the Group has changed significantly from that depicted in the 2019 Combined Management Report. The overall economic downturn following the coronavirus pandemic is also affecting Bertelsmann’s businesses, especially the advertising-funded businesses of RTL Group and Gruner + Jahr. Besides, the structural decline in the printing businesses is accelerated by the economic developments. In addition to the impacts on revenue and earnings, which are already apparent, there is a high degree of uncertainty regarding the further course of the coronavirus pandemic and a potential general economic recovery in connection with it. Assessing risk beyond the financial year 2020 is therefore difficult.

Many economies are reporting historic economic downturns, particularly in the second quarter of 2020. Although it seems as though the crisis has bottomed out, uncertainty surrounding the further development of the coronavirus pandemic still remains. Additionally, the risks that already existed before the pandemic, such as the potential expansion of protectionist measures and the uncertain long-term impact should the United Kingdom leave the European Union, remain. For Bertelsmann, this could result in additional risks to the advertising-financed businesses in particular.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

Please refer to the 2019 Combined Management Report for details of the legal and regulatory risks. No significant changes have been identified.

Financial Market Risks

Compared with the situation in the 2019 Combined Management Report, the financial market risks have grown to a moderate level. The setup of a strategic and anticipatory liquidity reserve in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic creates an increased risk related to investing the liquidity.

Overall Risk

In total, the overall risk position has increased significantly. Despite the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, no risks were identified for Bertelsmann as a going concern as of June 30, 2020.


The assessment of opportunities has not changed substantially compared to the information presented in the 2019 Combined Management Report. However, the growing digitalization of individual areas of life, which has accelerated even further due to the global coronavirus pandemic, has created additional opportunities. Accordingly, the use of digital media formats and online education solutions could increase for the long term and the service business surrounding digital customers and e-commerce solutions could grow.