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Overall Economic Developments

The global economy continued to grow in the first half of 2015; however, it did lose some momentum in the advanced economies and the emerging countries.

The economic recovery in the euro zone stabilized in the first few months of the current financial year and benefited from continued low energy prices, low inflation, the weaker euro and the accommodative monetary measures of the European Central Bank. According to the Statistical Office of the European Union, real gross domestic product (GDP) in the euro zone rose by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter; in the second quarter it rose by 0.3 percent.

In Germany the economy continued to grow, albeit at a slower rate than at the end of 2014. The key stimuli for growth were the favorable consumer climate and the construction sector. According to the Federal Statistical Office, real GDP rose by 0.3 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter; in the second quarter it rose by 0.4 percent.

After a strong start to the year in France, the economic recovery stagnated. According to Insee, the French Statistical Office, real GDP rose by 0.7 percent in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the previous quarter; in the second quarter the French economy recorded zero growth. In the UK, following a slight weakness at the beginning of 2015, robust economic growth resumed. Real GDP increased by 0.4 percent in the first quarter and by 0.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015.

In the United States, due to the harsh winter, real GDP increased in the first quarter of 2015 at a projected annual rate of 0.6 percent. According to the Bureau of Economics, the expected annualized growth rate for the second quarter will increase significantly, to 2.3 percent.

So far, the overall economic developments are within the current-year trend anticipated in the 2014 combined management report.

Development in Relevant Markets

The European TV advertising markets experienced uneven growth in the first six months of 2015. The TV advertising markets in Germany recorded moderate growth and in France there was slight growth. The Spanish TV advertising market grew strongly. While the Croatian, Belgian and Hungarian markets remained stable or weakened slightly, the TV advertising market in the Netherlands declined significantly.

The physical book market grew moderately in the UK. The markets in the United States and Spain remained stable or grew slightly. In Germany, the physical book market declined slightly. E-book sales continued to grow worldwide, but at a slightly slower rate.

The magazine markets in Germany and France were characterized during the reporting period by sharply falling advertising business and slightly declining circulation business.

The service markets relevant to Arvato experienced moderate to significant growth in the first half of 2015.

The European print markets for magazines, catalogs and promotional materials continued to shrink and were dogged by persistent price and volume pressure.

The global music publishing markets showed slight growth, whereas the markets for recorded music stabilized.

The education markets in the United States grew strongly in the first half of 2015 in the segments where Bertelsmann is involved.

So far, the developments in the relevant markets are essentially within the current-year trend anticipated in the 2014 combined management report.