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Bertelsmann Digital Guru to Exit Media Giant

Thomas Hesse was prexy of corporate development and new businesses

LONDON — Thomas Hesse, who oversaw media giant Bertelsmann’s strategic shift to digital, has stepped down as prexy of corporate development and new businesses, and executive board member.

Hesse, who is to leave on Dec. 31, will remain as a consultant to the board, with a focus on biz development in the U.S., and opportunities for investing in digital businesses.

Bertelsmann’s shift to digital has affected all parts of the company. For example, RTL Group, Europe’s largest broadcast network and owner of FremantleMedia (“American Idol,” “The X Factor”), now generates billions of online video views and is the fourth-largest video network on YouTube, while Penguin Random House has an extensive e-book program and sells 120 million e-books a year.

Bertelsmann chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe commented: “With his deep understanding of digital business models, Thomas Hesse was particularly instrumental in Bertelsmann’s transformation to digital. Bertelsmann has made excellent progress here.”

He added: “(Hesse) established new digital forums and processes that have significantly advanced the level of expertise and knowledge transfer at Bertelsmann. He also contributed the experience of his long years in the music business to the building of the new BMG.”

Hesse will not be replaced on the exec board. His areas of responsibility will be taken over by Rabe.

Hesse began his career in 1991 as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, and he joined Bertelsmann in 1996. After working in various positions at RTL Group, BMG and Sony BMG, he become prexy in charge of global digital business, U.S. sales and corporate strategy at Sony BMG, and then Sony Music Entertainment, after the 2004 merger between BMG and Sony Music. At Sony Music, he led a massive expansion of its worldwide digital businesses. He joined the Bertelsmann executive board in February 2012.

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