Philips quitting media biz, except for Polygram stake

AMSTERDAM — Philips president Cor Boonstra delivered a post mortem on the company’s media portfolio over the weekend, confirming it was bailing out of all media investments, except for its 75% stake in PolyGram.

Boonstra admitted to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad the Philips organization “had neither the people, the knowledge nor the mentality,” to cope with the fast-changing media world.

“We are much better at making products than at selling services,” he added.

The announcement came as little surprise to financial analysts, who have been watching Boonstra hack away at the company’s loss-making activities since he took over in the top spot a year ago.

But Boonstra hailed PolyGram, which Philips owns a 75% stake in, as a “structured and successful business” into which Philips wants to further expand its investments.

In June the company transferred its software and multimedia properties under the Philips Media umbrella to French company Infogrames Entertainment. Philips had earlier sold all of its cable interests in Europe to Denver-based United Intl. Holdings and more recently announced its shares in the scandal-ridden Dutch teletext company TeleWorld were up for sale.

Philips lost more than $500 million through its investments in Videoland and SuperClub and was among shareholders who lost more than $50 million when Dutch soccer channel Sport7 went under last December.

Boonstra also heavily criticized the ethics of the media business, citing TeleWorld, a company half-owned by Philips and half by the Dutch telecommunications company KPN. TeleWorld has been at the center of a scandal in Holland which has resulted in the firing or resignations of three media execs — former Holland Media Group toppers Huib Boermans and Henri Roemer, and former SBS head of European operations Freddy Theyes.

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