SBS taps Finkelstein CEO

Veteran does not plan to remain in charge long-term

AMSTERDAM — SBS Broadcasting has upped Michael Finkelstein, the Pan-European TV broadcaster’s vice chairman, to CEO as of Sept. 1.

Harry Evans Sloan, current chairman and CEO, will continue as chairman. Sloan also has appointed chief operating officer Markus Tellenbach, who is being groomed to succeed Finkelstein, to the additional position of president.

Sloan told Daily Variety Finkelstein is “essentially an entrepreneur.”

“With the company now approaching $500 million in annual revenues, it is time for a very professional management with bottom-line focus,” Sload said. “A mature business needs a CEO and a succession plan, and that’s what we’ve put in place here.”

Transition effort

But Finkelstein, who is a veteran of the U.S. TV station biz, made it clear he did not plan to remain in charge long-term and said the younger Tellenbach was “well qualified to succeed me as CEO, and I intend to work closely with him toward his eventual transition to that position.”

The news comes on the heels of SBS’ first-half results, released Monday. Sales were up 2% to 246 million euros ($216 million) and losses almost doubled to $42 million, $12 million of which was attributed to online investments.

SBS is holding its own in sales at a time when other media companies in Europe and North America have posted significant downturns.

Operating perf the focus

In the face of the weak advertising climate and a strong dollar vs. local currency, Sloan is stumping for improved operating performance dramatically, and Finkelstein has made that the top item on his agenda.

SBS’ expansion has meant it has always operated at a loss, ameliorated by a string of successful investments that have left it with 12 TV channels and 17 radio stations across Europe.

Sloan told Daily Variety he would not shut the door on new opportunities, but “our basic business strategy isn’t to conquer new territories, but to do a better job in the territories we are in.”

SBS has gone through a period of major cutbacks and redundancies, including at the highest levels of local management. Finkelstein, who lives in the U.S., will relocate to Europe.

SBS stock closed at $22.25 in Nasdaq trading Tuesday, down 1.46% from the previous day.

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