“Our strategy is not geared to short-term results but to long-term and sustainable success,” said Hartmut Ostrowski, who became chief executive on January 1. “We are a privately owned company and our owners are happy with the situation we have now,” he told the Financial Times.

Thomas Rabe, chief financial officer, said the buy-out of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert which gave the Mohn family 100 per cent control two years ago had given Bertelsmann the chance to take advantage of other companies’ troubles.

“We’re evaluating systematically the deals private equity investors have done in the last couple of years, when they were done and at what prices,” he told the FT. “We’re pretty sure there will be opportunities there.”

Although Mr Ostrowski reiterated a target of spending €5bn on acquisitions by 2013, Mr Rabe said it would have just €500m to spend this year unless it made disposals.

A second attempt to buy out minority shareholders in its RTL television business was the priority, he added. Once it had full control of RTL, Mr Ostrowski said: “We see a couple of moves in TV: ITV is one move and another might be in TV production.”

An ITV purchase would be complicated by RTL’s ownership of Five in the UK.

He ruled out school or college publishing acquisitions, in spite of an unsuccessful attempt to buy Thomson Learning last year, but said Bertelsmann was interested in education and vocational training businesses.