Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA


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 ( 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 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 Im Internet recherchierbar: Susanne Erdl Media and Financial Relations Phone: +49 (0) 52 41 - 80 25 35 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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