Peace Treaty Ends Battle for Bertelsmann

31 March 2003

The executive management and controlling shareholders of German media giant Bertelsmann have reportedly patched up their differences.

The two sides have been squabbling over the influence of the Mohn family, which owns 75% of the group. Traditionally the clan has taken a back seat in day-to-day operational matters, but comments last month from patriarch Reinhard Mohn suggested the family might seek greater influence [WAMN: 18-Feb-03].

That drew an angry response from management, with supervisory board chairman Gerd Schulte-Hillen warning the Mohns to keep their noses out of everyday matters, then threatening to resign.

Now Bertelsmann chief executive Gunter Thielen has reportedly brokered an agreement between the two sides.

Although no details have yet been released, the pact concerns new bylaws for the collegiate body that controls the Mohns’ 75% stake. Contributing to the crisis was the increase in the number of family members on the eight-strong board of this body from two (Reinhard and his wife Liz) to four, with the addition of the patriarch’s children Christoph and Brigitte.

Both the Mohns and Schulte-Hillen are said to be happy with the new deal. Reinhard Mohn is expected to disclose the new bylaws and set out his family’s role in the company shortly.

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