Bertelsmann puts Schmidt over e-unit

Exec to o'see new division

BERLIN — German media giant Bertelsmann has launched the Bertelsmann e-commerce group, tapping ex-AOL Europe chief Andreas Schmidt to oversee the new division, which will be headquartered in Hamburg and New York.

The new group has a mandate to develop the company’s e-commerce, and further the transfer of its content and product worldwide.

The e-company, which bundles all of Bertelsmann’s e-commerce businesses, such as the Bertelsmann Broadband Group and its stake in BarnesandNoble.com, has been divided into five departments.

M-commerce will cover mobile commerce, b-commerce covers broadband commerce, and e-commerce is the broader commercial arm. BeCG Ventures is a venture capital fund set to invest in the development and expansion of new brands and technologies.

A Strategic Alliance Division will oversee the cooperation between Bertelsmann and its global alliances, which include America Online and TerraLycos.

MediaWays agreement

Separately, Bertelsmann announced Monday an agreement with Spanish telco giant Telefonica over MediaWays, a German Internet network run by Bertelsmann. Bertelsmann will sell the company when it exercises a put option to sell in January or, failing that, if Telefonica exercises a call option in April 2001.

Bertelsmann will receive Telefonica shares for the transaction, which carries an estimated pricetag of $1.6 billion.

Three of a kind

Agreement is the third set of dealings between Bertelsmann and Telefonica, after the Terra Lycos alliance and a joint venture with online retailer BOL for Spain and Latin America.

Via its TerraLycos and AOL ventures, Bertelsmann has access to more than 25 million customers worldwide. Its book and music clubs and magazine subscriptions bring in another 45 million.

MediaWays was founded in 1996, and is the second-largest operator of a German Internet network after Deutsche Telekom. Company also provides online services and solutions.

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