Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA

FRANK WÖSSNER STEPS DOWN FROM BERTELSMANN AG EXECUTIVE BOARD
ETER OLSON PICKS UP THE BATON FOR BERTELSMANN'S GLOBAL BOOK PUBLISHING BUSINESSES, UNITED UNDER THE RANDOM HOUSE BRAND
KLAUS EIERHOFF UNITES BOOK CLUBS, E-COMMERCE

    Gütersloh/New York (ots) - Frank Wössner will be leaving the
Bertelsmann AG Executive Board and resigning from his duties as
Chairman of the Book AG when he turns 60 at the end of March. His
responsibilities will pass to Peter Olson (51) and Klaus Eierhoff
(47) under the terms of a continuity agreement signed a good year
ago. Olson is Chairman and CEO of Random House Inc. and, as of April
1, 2001, will be the first American to sit on the Bertelsmann AG
Executive Board. He is responsible for all the company's book
publishing business. Eierhoff, member of the Bertelsmann Executive
Board and head of DirectGroup Bertelsmann, took on the leadership of
Bertelsmann's book clubs last July, uniting them with the companies
e-commerce activities.
    
    Thomas Middelhoff (47), Chairman and CEO of the Bertelsmann AG:
"Peter Olson is the right man in the right place. He has an intense
passion for books and reading, and combines entrepreneurial fortitude
and energy with great sensitivity for his work with publishers and
authors. The first-rate integration of Random House group under his
auspices laid the cornerstone for the continued positive development
of Bertelsmann's book publishing companies. As an American, Peter
Olson will enrich the work of the Bertelsmann AG Executive Board."
    
    Frank Wössner set the tone for a highly successful era in
Bertelsmann's book business: under his leadership, the Book AG grew
into the world's largest book empire. The most far-reaching and
important entrepreneurial step was taken in mid-1998, with the
acquisition and subsequent smooth integration of the world's largest
English-language publishing house, Random House. Wössner led the
Verlagsgruppe München to the top of the German-language market and
into profitability once again. Under Frank Wössner, the book clubs,
the international media company's nucleus, expanded to Eastern Europe
and Asia; at the same time, he led the German club from a difficult
situation to renewed vigor. Over the past few years, Frank Wössner
has played a major role in taking the book in its traditional form
and transferring it to a modern environment shaped by new
distribution paths and the digitization of all content. He held many
offices and positions which he used to promote books as a cultural
commodity and reading as a hallmark of civilization, e.g. in the
"Stiftung Lesen" or the world's largest literature festival "Leipzig
liest".
    
    Thomas Middelhoff on Frank Wössner: "On behalf of the Executive
Board, I thank Frank Wössner for his achievements for and commitment
to Bertelsmann, especially in its book and club businesses. I am
especially grateful to him for our close and mutually trusting
cooperation during our years spent together on the Bertelsmann
Executive Board. Frank Wössner plans to apply his wide-ranging
experience in the media industry, marketing, and sales to new
entrepreneurial challenges and positions in the future. I wish him
the best of success and personal happiness in his ventures."
    
    Bertelsmann's book business has undergone comprehensive
restructuring. Last year, the company took the rapid changes in the
market and in consumer behavior as an opportunity for a far-reaching
strategic reorganization:  The more than one hundred book clubs with
their 29 million customers worldwide were hived off from the book
publishing division and assigned to Klaus Eierhoff's DirectGroup,
which unites all the company's direct-to-customer businesses (on- and
offline). With approximately 55 million customer relationships, this
makes DirectGroup one of the largest enterprises in the
direct-to-customer business with media products.
    
    The over one hundred noted book publishing companies on four
continents that had previously done business as Book AG, will be
grouped under the Random House brand as of April 1, and will be
managed from New York. At present, they generate approximately 70
percent of their sales in North America. Peter Olson will head the
book publishing businesses. His appointment to the Bertelsmann
Executive Board is not only an unconditional profession of faith in
top content quality and flexible entrepreneurial action in the core
business of books, it also serves to strengthen the international
quality of the Bertelsmann media company.
    
    The Random House name stands for a carefully cultivated literary
heritage and active promotion of contemporary literature. Titles
published by the various publishing companies with their several
thousand new releases each year are regularly found on the world's
most famous bestseller lists. Moreover, Random House works with more
Nobel Prize winners than any other publishing group.
    
    About Bertelsmann AG (www.bertelsmann.com)
    
    As the world's most international media company, Bertelsmann
commands leading positions in the global media and entertainment
industries. The Bertelsmann Group consists of publishing and music
companies, book and music clubs, magazines and newspapers, television
and radio stations, print and media service providers, multimedia and
professional information companies represented by such brands as
Random House, BMG, Gruner + Jahr and RTL. Bertelsmann is the world's
largest general-interest publisher and the biggest English-language
publishing house worldwide. Bertelsmann book and music clubs are
number one worldwide with 41 million members. Through RTL Group and
Gruner + Jahr, the company ranks first in the European broadcasting
and magazine sectors, respectively. Bertelsmann is the worldwide
leading media company in the internet, and top ranking in its peer
market in e-commerce with BOL in Europe and barnesandnoble.com in the
US. The organization currently employs 81,000 people in 58 countries
and posted 16.5 billion Euro in total revenues in the 1999/00
financial year ended June 30, 200 During the first six months of the
current business year 2000/2001, turnover rose by nearly 40 percent
(compared with the period from July 1 to December 31, 1999) to Euro
10.4 billion.
    
    
ots Originaltext: Bertelsmann AG
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Susanne Erdl
Media and Financial Relations
Phone: +49 (0) 52 41 - 80 25 35
susanne.erdl@bertelsmann.de
Bertelsmann AG                        
Corporate Communications        
Telefon +49 / 52 41 / 80 - 24 66
Fax  +49 / 52 41 / 80 - 66 13

Original-Content von: Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA, übermittelt durch news aktuell

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