Bernhard Burgener to replace Fred Kogel

BERLIN — Constantin Film chief exec Fred Kogel is ankling his post at the end of the year and will be replaced by Bernhard Burgener, CEO of parent group Highlight Communications.

Move signals a possible tighter integration of Constantin, Germany’s leading independent producer-distrib, into Leo Kirch’s Highlight-EM.Sport Media group.

Burgener is also due to replace EM.Sport topper Werner Klatten in September following the two group’s fusion, which intensified in March when EM.Sport raised its stake in Highlight to nearly 38%.

Kogel’s contract was set to expire in June but was extended through December, with Burgener to take the helm in January.

Having replaced Bernd Eichinger as Constantin’s CEO in 2003, Kogel, a former exec at the now defunct Kirch Media, has been credited with expanding the group’s core businesses, including new divisions such as TV production, home entertainment and licensing.

Under his watch, Constantin doubled its revenue and achieved record profits, thanks in part to muscular films such as “Downfall” and “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.”

Kogel is the second Constantin exec to announce his exit since December, when former head of distribution Thomas Friedl ankled after 18 years to join RTL Group’s newly launched production and distribution group UFA Cinema.

Currently Constantin’s supervisory board chairman, Burgener will step down from that post in December before taking over as CEO.

“Without Fred Kogel Constantin Film would not be what it is today — Germany’s most successful independent media group,” said Eichinger, Constantin’s deputy supervisory board chairman and the company’s favorite in-house producer.

“In his almost six-year period in office as chief executive officer, Fred Kogel has also proved to be a fearless operator whenever times get tough,” Eichinger added.

Explaining his decision, Kogel said, “The expansion of Constantin Film into an integrated media group and Germany’s biggest independent producer has been completed now,” adding that it “holds an excellent position in both Germany and Europe and is very well equipped for the future. The return to the company of the film library in the coming years means that solid foundations have been laid for corporate growth too.”

Kogel is to remain active as a company consultant following his exit.

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