Company opens new unit in Hamburg

BERLIN — Pan-European media giant RTL Group is getting back into the game.

Company said Monday that it had opened its Ufa Sports division in Hamburg and would be active mainly in the international marketing of media rights to sports events.

Philip Cordes, former chief exec of licensing firm Sportfive and onetime exec at a previous incarnation of Ufa Sports, will initially oversee the company and gradually expand the company’s management board.

Ufa Sports was established in 1988 as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ufa group, which merged into CLT-Ufa in 1997 and later into the newly created RTL Group in 2000.

In an ambitious joint venture by former Bertelsmann topper Thomas Middelhoff and Vivendi Universal’s ex-CEO Jean-Marie Messier, Ufa Sport became a major part of the Sportfive Group in 2002. That firm was taken over in 2006 by French media conglom Lagardere. Cordes served as Sportfive CEO from 2004-07.

“One of the three pillars in our successful corporate strategy is a systematic diversification of our revenue streams, along with tapping new lines of business,” said Elmar Heggen, chief financial officer of RTL Group. “Our re-entry into sports rights marketing is a step that makes perfect sense in rounding off our portfolio.”

Cordes added: “We have ambitious targets and are confident that we will very soon re-establish UFA Sports as an important player on the market with contemporary, future-proof business models.”

Ufa Sports joins a highly competitive field that, in addition to Sportfive, already includes major players like IMG as well as Leo Kirch, who is in the process of forging a major rights and production group from his rights companies EM.Sport and Highlight Communications.

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