New Bertelsmann Boss Reassures US Execs Over Growth Plans

09 August 2002

Bertelsmann intends to hold fast to and grow its US units, the German media giant’s newly appointed chairman/ceo Gunter Thielen has revealed.

Thielen, who took over after the surprise ousting of Thomas Middelhoff [WAMN: 29-Jul-02], is touring Bertelsmann’s divisions to restore confidence.

Speaking to executives in New York, he insisted the company would not be pressured into an asset sale. Instead, US managers – from divisions such as Random House and the BMG music unit – were told they would be granted greater operational freedom.

BMG, which recently restructured, expects to return to profit this year, and Thielen assured executives there would be no tinkering with its growth plans.

A strategic review of Bertelsmann’s businesses has been launched, but is expected to concentrate on its struggling DirectGroup book clubs and ways to reduce debt. The German media firm expects to run up higher debts than anticipated this year and is negotiating a €1.5 billion ($1.45bn; £0.95bn) loan.

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