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Kofler exits Premiere

Paybox appoints CEO, invests in free TV net

German feevee Premiere’s supervisory board Sunday appointed Michael Boernicke CEO of the company after Georg Kofler, the colorful chief exec, announced he’s ankling Aug. 31. Boernicke has served as chief financial officer and deputy CEO. Alexander Teschner, currently deputy CFO, will replace Boernicke as chief financial officer.

Kofler, who has played an indelible role in the shaping of Germany’s television landscape in the past two decades, said he would turn his attention to launching an 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.

Kofler asked the supervisory board for an early release from his contract after overseeing the company’s recent reacquisition 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,” Kofler said.

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 E10 million ($13.6 million). Premiere is hoping the channel, which boasts annual revenue of $92 million, will see above-average growth in coming years.

“In the upcoming months, important license rights for pay TV programs will be tendered out,” Kofler said. “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 longtime horizon.”

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 hemorrhaging that ultimately sank 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.

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