BERLIN — Georg Kofler, the colorful chief exec of German paybox Premiere, has announced he is ankling his post this month after more than five years at the helm.
Kofler, who has played an indelible role in the shaping of Germany’s television landscape in the last two decades, said he would turn his attention to launching a new enterprise “positioned in selected growth markets” — but not in the media industry.
“I have experienced the media business in many details – now I am looking forward to focusing my attention and energy on new topics,” Kofler said.
Premiere’s supervisory board on Sunday appointed Michael Boernicke new CEO of the company. Up till now, Boernicke has served as chief financial officer and deputy CEO. Alexander Teschner, currently deputy CFO, will replace Boernicke as new CFO.
Kofler asked the supervisory board for an early release from his contract after overseeing the company’s recent re-acquisition of top league Bundesliga soccer rights from one-time rival Arena.
“After the successful transaction with Arena, a new phase begins for Premiere: the company is set again for growth, the strategic position is excellent,” said Kofler, who’s exiting the company Aug. 31.
On Monday the company also confirmed it was for the first time moving into free TV, acquiring a 14.4% stake in teleshopping and auction channel 1-2-3.TV for some Euro 10 million ($13.6 million). Premiere is hoping the channel, which boasts annual revenue of $92 million, will see above-average growth in coming years.
Kofler, a native of Italy’s German-speaking South Tyrol region, stressed that he was no longer prepared for the long-term management necessary for future licensing deals.
“In the upcoming months, important license rights for pay TV programs will be tendered out. We are expecting contract periods up to 2012 or longer, accordingly strategic and operating decisions have to be taken on a long-term view. Having evaluated these requirements, I have decided that I am not prepared to continue my responsibility as CEO for such a long-time horizon.”
A former Premiere shareholder, Kofler last week disposed of all his Premiere shares, which accounted for 1.25% of the company’s capital.
Kofler took the reins at Premiere in 2002 at a time when the paybox was losing nearly $2 million a day – a deadly hemorrhage that ultimately sunk the Kirch Group, the now defunct former owner of both Premiere and free TV broadcaster ProSiebenSat1.
Yet he managed the remarkable feat of turning the company around following its takeover by private equity investor Permira, leading the paybox to a successful IPO in 2005.
In addition to transforming Premiere into Germany’s only viable pay TV broadcaster, Kofler played a key role in the Kirch Group. In 1986, Kofler left his post as an exec at Austrian pubcaster ORF to join Munich-based Kirch, where he served as head of Leo Kirch’s office and later oversaw the launch of ProSieben Television, Kabel Eins and news web N24, three of the five main outlets that now comprise the ProSiebenSat1 group. As CEO of ProSieben Media, Kofler took the company public in 1997.
He exited ProSieben in 1999 to focus on his teleshopping channel Hot, which he founded in 1995 with Home Shopping Network, retail giant Quelle, and Thomas Kirch, son of Leo Kirch.