Bertelsmann Boss Ready to Extend Contract

23 December 2003

Gunter Thielen, ceo of German-headquartered media giant Bertelsmann, is ready to agree to a new contract to lock him into the firm beyond 2005.

Late last week, Thielen told a meeting of over 500 Bertelsmann managers that he would be willing to remain chief executive if the supervisory board made him an offer and the management board agreed.

He took the chief executive post almost eighteen months ago after the dramatic expulsion of Thomas Middelhoff. Although Thielen was widely expected to extend his three-year contract, last week's announcement clears up any doubts about his future at the firm.

The Bertelsmann boss has the backing of the closely-held group's shareholders -- the controlling Mohn family and Belgian holding company Groupe Bruxelles Lambert. His authority was boosted last month when chairman Gerd Schulte-Hillen, who had criticised some of Thielen's deals, quit the supervisory board [WAMN: 20-Nov-03].

Thielen also announced last week that he wants the group to grow organically and through innovation, rather than through acquisitions. The media titan is still trying to reduce its debts and cut costs.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff