27 MAR 2020

MAX CONZE TO STEP DOWN AS CEO FROM PROSIEBENSAT.1

After the company saw a a tumbling share price drop from more than €14 at the start of the year to less than €7 now, the former CEO will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer, Rainer Beaujean. The broadcaster announced that it would change its strategic focus and concentrate on its efforts for entertainment programming.

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German broadcaster, ProSiebenSat.1 reorganized its executive board, leading to Max Conze’s obligation to step down as CEO immediately. The company plans to re-focus its efforts on Red Arrow Studios, entertainment programming, and expanding its on-demand offerings. Conze replaced Thomas Ebeling in 2018 with previous experience from Dyson. Soon after joining, ProSiebenSat.1 experienced a tumbling share price, dropping from more than €14 at the start of the year to less than €7 now. Earlier this month, Deputy CEO Conrad Albert expressed that the business was suffering from a “boardroom soap opera.” Chairman of ProSieben’s board, Werner Brandt thanked Conze for his work and said he had “steered the company through a difficult time with consistency and determination.”

Conze’s parting after two years resulted in a rough status for the company, leaving it to mend its share price tumble, the cancellation of the sale of Red Arrow Studios and the exit of numerous high-ranking execs. ProSiebenSat.1 recently made a $500 million investment in dating app developer The Meet Group, sending shares to new lows. “Existing investments that benefit from advertising on the entertainment platforms will continue to be developed to generate value and sold in due course under an active portfolio policy,” said ProSieben Sat.1 in a statement. The broadcaster announced that it would “change its strategic focus,” and confirmed that it will concentrate on entertainment services in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland at a board meeting on Thursday evening. The focus will be on local and live formats, as well as digital-focused Studio71, expanding its Joyn streaming platform, which offers all channels from ProSiebenSat.1, Discovery, Viacom, WELT, Sport1, and the various channels of public broadcasters ARD and ZDF. The service ordered its first reality TV format in February and also has original dramas in the works. it also confirmed it was “in close cooperation” with Red Arrow Studios, which ProSieben pulled from the sale block two weeks ago. Digital commerce arm NuCom will, however, be sold off  to be “further developed for value and sold in the course of an active portfolio policy.” 

Chief Financial Officer, Rainer Beaujean took charge after he was appointed Chairman of the executive board. Wolfgang Link has been the co-CEO of the group’s entertainment unit since last year and has also joined the executive board. Christine Scheffler, who has been chief human resources officer at ProSiebenSat.1 since early 2019, is also joining. Beaujean previously worked as a packaging manufacturer at Gerresheimer before being named CFO at ProSieben in July. Link has been the co-CEO of entertainment for the broadcaster since 2019, originally joining in 2009 and introducing shows such as “The Voice Germany.” Brandt said he had “full confidence” in the new board, describing Beaujean as “a very analytical and strong manager, further adding that Link and Scheffler would be “key to the future success” of the company. “Now concentrate more on our core entertainment segment and a sustainably profitable business,” Beaujean said, reassuring that the company“far more potential” to fulfill. “The Corona pandemic will present us with a very big challenge in the coming weeks and months, but I am firmly convinced that we will emerge from this crisis stronger and create value for our shareholders again.”

During the same period as its reorganization, ProSieben Germany ordered a quick-turnaround live music special from Red Arrow Studios-owned Redseven Entertainment. "The Great ProSieben Living Room Festival" will see more than 40 stars from around the world perform live from their homes. Some of the artists performing include Melanie C, Dermot Kennedy, Dua Lipa, Mando Diao, Scooter, Ava Max, Johannes Oerding, Josh Groban, The BossHoss, Patricia Kelly, Roachford, Tom Gregory, Rea Garvey, Yvonne Catterfeld, Mark Forster, Nico Santos, Thees Uhlmann, and Giovanni Zarella. “Music’s power is to connect people, and especially during these times we want to make it easier for our viewers to stay at home and be entertained,” ProSieben Channel Manager, Daniel Rosemann said. “I would like to thank all of the artists who spontaneously agreed to help us celebrate this unique festival.”

Redseven was also commissioned by Kabel Eins in Germany to produce the new daily cooking show “We Cook Together! At Home With a Top Chef.” “Redseven loves a challenge, and we are excited to produce this major new live entertainment event that sees stars in their own homes, reaching out to audiences in their homes,” CEO of Redseven Entertainment, Jobst Benthues said. “Unprecedented times like these forces everyone to step up, and it’s an honor to be producing a show that brings together so many talented and creative people.” 

Now concentrate more on our core entertainment segment and a sustainably profitable business. The Corona pandemic will present us with a very big challenge in the coming weeks and months, but I am firmly convinced that we will emerge from this crisis stronger and create value for our shareholders again. ” Rainer Beaujean Chief Financial Officer