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ProSiebenSat1 sales chief quits

Poor results drive stock price down 28%

ProSiebenSat.1’s sales and marketing exec Peter Christmann fell on his sword Friday after the pan-European group reported a poor first-quarter performance, which triggered a dramatic 28% drop in its share price to E9.75 ($15.20).

ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Guillaume de Posch will temporarily take over Christmann’s responsibilities following his exit at the end of June.

The share plunge came following publication of disappointing first-quarter figures and news that revenue will also shrink in the second quarter.

Including the acquisition of SBS Broadcasting in year-earlier figures, first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization dropped 25.1% to $138.10 million while revenue decreased 2% to $1.1 billion.

Last year it was forced to stop giving clients ad rebates after Germany’s Federal Cartel Office fined the company for anti-competitive practices.

Uncertainties linked to the implementation of its new advertising sales model as well as to weak ratings at German web Sat.1 were largely responsible for the drop in revenue and earnings, the company said.

Speaking on a conference call to reporters on Friday, de Posch said, “We are confident we’ll regain advertising market share in the second half,” but added there would be “some difficulties” in the second quarter.

In an effort to contain the damage, ProSiebenSat1 said it would cut costs by $110 million this year.

ProSiebenSat.1 last year paid $5.2 billion for SBS Broadcasting in an effort to expand across Europe. ProSiebenSat.1 operates 26 free TV channels and 24 payboxes throughout Europe, including five channels in Germany.

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