The Bertelsmann AG Supervisory Board today (Oct. 10) appointed Thomas Rabe 46, currently Chief Financial Officer of the Group, its future Chairman & CEO. He will succeed the current Chairman & CEO Hartmut Ostrowski, 53, on January 1, 2012.
Ostrowski is resigning from the Executive Board for personal reasons and will be moving to the Supervisory Board. The changeover was by mutual consent. The move was announced in Gütersloh. Bertelsmann refused to give any details about the personal reasons of Ostrowski.
According to well-informed sources within the media industry, however, Ostrowski reportedly was in talks with Bertelsmann to renew his 5-year contract. In the course of the negotiations, he allegedly realized he might not have the stamina for another five years. The management board convinced Ostrowski to join Bertelsmann's supervisory board to ensure continuity within the Group.
A senior executive from a Bertelsmann company said that, "Overall, Ostrowski has led us back to growth and that's why we need him on board. However, continuity in day-to-day operations will be safeguarded with Rabe." Bertelsmann declined to comment on this story to Billboard.
Recently, on Sept. 14, Bertelsmann owner Liz Mohn and Ostrowski greeted guests at a reception in Berlin with handshakes and there were no visible signs of Ostrowski's departure.
Gunter Thielen, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, said in a statement: "Bertelsmann owes Hartmut Ostrowski a great debt of gratitude. He led the company in difficult times. I look forward to continuing to work with him on the Supervisory Board. The timing of the changeover ensures that the passing of the baton to Thomas Rabe will be handled smoothly."
Hartmut Ostrowski joined Bertelsmann AG in 1982 and worked for the company in various capacities ever since with only a brief interruption. In 2002 he became CEO of Arvato AG, a company providing busienss solutions to IT/high-tech, games, video, and audio sectors, while also keeping a seat on the Bertelsmann Executive Board. He was appointed Bertlesmann Chairman on January 1, 2008. His achievements include expanding Arvato AG into an international services company; successfully steering Bertelsmann through tough economic times; and paying down the company's debt to the target level.
Thomas Rabe has served as Chief Financial Officer and head of the Corporate Center at Bertelsmann AG since January 1, 2006. Prior to this, he held the same position at RTL Group in Luxembourg. In addition to his duties as Chief Financial Officer, Rabe is also responsible for the Corporate Investments growth initiatives, which include its holdings in the music rights company BMG, which he built up with BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch to one of the leading music publishing companies in the world. Rabe was also successful with the Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments (BDMI) and Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) funds.
His successor as Chief Financial Officer will be announced at a later date.
Thielen adds: "The shareholders and Supervisory Board wish Thomas Rabe the best of success in his new role. We are sure that in him, we have an entrepreneur at the top who will lend further momentum to Bertelsmann's growth strategy and future development."
The German Bertelsmann is an international media company with the television group RTL Group, the book publishing Random House, the magazine publishing Gruner + Jahr, and the outsourcing services Arvato in 50 countries. In 2010, the company's businesses, with their 100,000 employees, generated revenues of €15.8 billion.
"We are very satisfied with developments in the first half of the year," said Bertelsmann CEO Hartmut Ostrowski in a statement in September. "We improved our revenues and Group profit as well as our central performance indicator, the BVA, a benchmark of value creation. For only the second time ever, return on sales reached double-digit figures in a half-year reporting period. This gives us the necessary impetus to resolutely move forward with our growth strategy."