Thomas Rabe, CEO of Bertelsmann, is now taking over at RTL Germany
Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka / dpa
Stephan Schäfer is resigning from his position as co-head of the media company RTL Germany with immediate effect after only about a year.
RTL Group and Bertelsmann boss Thomas Rabe takes over as CEO, co-boss Matthias Dang remains, as the listed RTL Group announced.
As a reason for Schäfer's rapid departure, Rabe told the dpa news agency: "We have now decided on the management structure at RTL Germany because RTL is facing some major challenges."
Just under a year ago, a duo of two equal co-bosses took over the helm at RTL Germany: Schäfer as head of Gruner + Jahr and responsible for content at RTL Germany, and Dang, responsible for RTL's commercial, technological and digital activities.
They started the merger of the TV broadcasting group with the German magazine business of the Hamburg magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr at the turn of the year.
Both houses are part of the Bertelsmann group portfolio.
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According to SPIEGEL information, RTL is reacting to the current situation with Schäfer's departure: energy markets, inflation and the war in Ukraine made a different leadership necessary.
Thomas Rabe had always taken care of business, but now he is assuming direct responsibility »for a maximum of one year«.
In a statement, the new boss refers to the tense advertising market, and there are also major projects such as the expansion of the streaming platform RTL + to a cross-media offer.
He also mentioned the merger of RTL and Gruner + Jahr.
»Against the background of the challenges, we want to set up the management team differently.«
Schäfer will remain with RTL as a consultant
According to RTL, Stephan Schäfer is leaving the management board and leaving the company on the best of terms.
He remains connected to RTL as a consultant."
Thomas Rabe explained: »We have agreed that we will continue to work together.«
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Rabe commented on the decision to take over the top position at Bertelsmann, headquartered in Gütersloh and the RTL Group in Luxembourg, at RTL Germany as well: "I run Bertelsmann overall, but in the almost eleven years since I've been in charge have always set priorities in individual businesses.« That was the case with the service provider Arvato, with the formation of the service provider Majorel or in the RTL Group.
"It's part of my way of working."
Regarding the importance of RTL Germany for Bertelsmann, Rabe said: "RTL Group is extremely important for Bertelsmann and RTL Germany is our largest single business." That's why his attention is particularly focused on this business.
"I'm going to spend even more time in Cologne now, at least three days a week."
Integration of the magazines "making good progress"
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The manager also commented on the merger of the magazine brands from Gruner + Jahr and RTL.
The merger is proceeding according to plan, but also step by step.
"It was designed that way from the start." In 2022, the planned synergy target will be exceeded, namely more than 20 million euros.
»That shows that we are making good progress.« Rabe also said: »We see ourselves as one company and not as two companies that are brought together under one roof.«
In addition to Rabe as Chairman and Co-CEO Dang, the new management of RTL Germany now consists of two previous members: Oliver Radtke, who is responsible for the overall coordination of the merger of RTL and Gruner + Jahr, and Alexander Glatz, who is responsible for the Legal & Finance department .
In addition, the long-time RTL man Andreas Fischer is new to the management team, previously Executive Vice President Business Development of the RTL Group.
He will take care of the operational business as Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Plan: 10 million streaming subscribers by 2026
In addition to the merger of the editorial offices of RTL and Gruner + Jahr, the media company RTL Deutschland with its more than 8,000 employees is working on expanding the streaming platform RTL+, which already has 3.4 million subscribers, into a multimedia offering.
A new music app is now the first step in this direction.
The aim is to stand out from other global streaming services such as Netflix.
The bottom line is that RTL is still not making any money with its streaming services, the whole thing is still in the development phase, and the group is investing millions in content.
They want to be profitable by 2026.
The number of subscribers should then be 10 million and sales should be one billion euros.
The advertising economy, which is a key market for RTL, is also currently weakening.
The listed RTL Group is more cautious about the rest of the year.