German media mammoth Bertelsmann will today (Wednesday) unveil an overhaul of its senior management.

The restructuring is part of a bid by chief executive Thomas Middelhoff to convert a highly decentralised group into an integrated entertainment giant.

Under the reorganisation – which requires the thumbs-up from Bertelsmann’s supervisory board – a Middelhoff-chaired, seven-strong corporate executive council will be created to advise the management board.

Unlike the latter, the new council will contain no representatives of the group’s manifold divisions, in an attempt to streamline the decision-making process.

In addition, Bertelsmann will appoint a chief operating officer. The new post will, it is thought, be filled by Ewald Walgenbach, head of the RTL broadcast unit, who is expected to take charge of day-to-day operations while Middelhoff shifts to a more strategic role.

The German group plans to float on the stock market in 2004 or 2005, at which point tighter central management and increased integration of its various units may boost its valuation.

News source: Financial Times; The Times (London)