BERLIN — Urs Rohner will replace Georg Kofler as chief executive officer of Germany’s most profitable web and its parent company, ProSieben Media, beginning Feb. 1, 2000.
The appointment of Rohner, a Swiss lawyer, was approved Tuesday night by ProSieben’s advisory committee, just weeks after Kofler’s resignation.
Reports suggest Rohner was boosted by Germany’s leading rights trader, Leo Kirch, whose Kirch Group recently said it is considering closer ties with ProSieben. The station is 58% owned by Kirch’s son, Thomas.
Rohner told journalists and industry players gathered for the International Broadcasting Fair in Berlin that he did not know if he were, in fact, Kirch’s favored candidate.
“As Kirch is an important business partner for ProSieben, I would be pleased if that were the case,” he said.
Rohner is said to have worked as a legal advisor to Kirch and to Kirch ally Otto Beisheim, a Swiss entrepreneur who heads rights agency Metro, which supplies a significant part of ProSieben’s programming. Analysts said the appointment of a low-profile manager could point to closer cooperation between ProSieben and rival web Sat.1, which is majority-owned by Kirch.
If ProSieben were tied closer to Kirch’s core holding KirchMedia, which contains its free TV activities, it would also increase the appeal of the holding, which is set to go public.
Rohner studied law at Zurich University and is currently a partner in Swiss law firm Lenz & Staehelin, where he specializes in media, capital markets and competition law.
Rohner spent two years in New York working on mergers and acquisitions, capital markets and corporate finance.