CEO of Germany’s Constantin Medien Resigns, Board Gets Shakeup

Fred Kogel has resigned as CEO of Germany media group Constantin Medien after a bitter fight between competing factions on the group’s board. Kogel, who has also relinquished his seat on Constantin’s management board, will leave as CEO on Sept. 22.

Kogel’s resignation, announced at the group’s annual general meeting Wednesday night, came as the company’s entire supervisory board was replaced after its chair, Dieter Hahn, and his deputy, Jean-Baptiste Felten, both announced that they would not stand for re-election. The remaining four members of the supervisory board all resigned with immediate effect.

The shakeup is designed to end a power struggle between Hahn and Bernhard Burgener, Kogel’s predecessor as CEO, about the future direction of the company. Hahn and Burgener are both major shareholders in Constantin Medien. Hahn controls 29.21% of shares through a combination of personal shares and those owned through his companies DHV and KF 15.

Burgener’s Highlight Event and Entertainment controls 29.76% and owns Constantin Film, one of the media group’s film holdings. Constantin Film is the producer of the hit “Resident Evil” franchise (pictured) – which has grossed over $1.23 billion worldwide from six films – and numerous other local and English-language titles.

Constantin Medien’s businesses covers film, sports, sports and event marketing, and holding activities. A battle has been raging since last year between Hahn and his supporters, who wanted to carve off the group’s film business to focus on the more profitable sports business, and Burgener and his supporters, who remain invested in the film side, which accounts for the biggest slice of total revenues, contributing €351 million ($414.4 million) to the group’s 2016 revenues of €565.7 million ($667.8 million).

In November, shareholders approved a proposal by the management and supervisory boards to spin off the film business, which Hahn called “the best and most promising strategy for the Constantin Medien Group in the long-term.” But Burgener responded by significantly increasing Highlight’s position in the company from 20.3% (including Burgener’s personal shares) to 29.76%. Constantin Medien’s statement on its outlook for the 2017 financial year said that the dispute had helped create uncertainty at the company.

Kogel joined the management board in 2014, after having been chair of the supervisory board from 2009 until 2014. Prior to that, he was CEO of Constantin Film from 2003 to 2009. He became CEO of the Constantin Medien group on Jan. 1, 2016. In March of this year, his contract was extended, which was expected to see him remain in the post until at least the end of 2018.

Hahn will be replaced as chair of the supervisory board by Paul Graf, head of mergers and acquisitions at Burgener’s Highlight Communications. Media lawyer Thomas von Petersdorff-Campen will serve as his deputy. The other supervisory board positions will be filled by Andreas Benz, Markus Prazeller, Gero von Pelchrzim, and Edda Kraft, managing director of factual entertainment production company Saxonia Entertainment.

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