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Rentrak CEO Berger resigns in proxy fight

Founder remains chairman of Portland biz

Ron Berger, CEO of video revenue-sharing pioneer Rentrak, has resigned that post amid a proxy fight over control of the company’s board.

Berger, who founded Rentrak in 1977 and conceptualized its unique “pay-per-transaction” approach to the homevideo business, will remain chairman, he said in a statement Friday.

The Portland, Ore.-based company allows retailers to pay only a lease payment upfront for homevideo or DVD titles. Retailers share in revenue on the back end of transactions when Rentrak splits consumer revenue between the studio releasing a title and retailers.

Meanwhile, the company’s proxy fight has developed over differences of opinion about what to do with a separate Rentrak operation — 3PF.com, an electronic-commerce fulfillment company.

Investor Paul Rosenbaum leads a group of longtime Rentrak shareholders who are dissatisfied with Rentrak’s share price and want to spin off an Internet subsidiary to stoke the value of their holdings.

“I decided to resign as chief executive officer, since it is obvious that I have become a lightning rod for the opposition in the proxy contest,” Berger said. “I continue to believe that it is in the best interest of all shareowners to reelect the company’s entire slate of nominees to the board of directors instead of the nominees of the dissident Paul Rosenbaum group.”

Rentrak spokesman Dick Gersh said Berger initially backed the idea of an initial public offering for the Internet business but changed his position when market conditions for IPOs softened on Wall Street.

“(Berger) has served Rentrak well since founding the company,” Rentrak president F. Kim Cox said. “We will miss his vision, his leadership and his perpetual enthusiasm.”

No indication was given about a Berger successor as Rentrak chief. Rentrak has set its annual shareholders meeting for Tuesday.

Rentrak shares closed up 63¢ at $3.88.

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