Gerhard Zeiler to Leave RTL Group

The long-time CEO of the RTL Group, Gerhard Zeiler, has announced that he will leave the company on April 18 and step down from Bertelsman's executive board.

Anke Schäferkordt, CEO of Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, will replace him on the Bertelsmann executive board.

Following Zeiler's departure, Anke Schäferkordt and Guillaume de Posch will jointly take over the management of the RTL Group as co-CEOs.

Guillaume de Posch, who is responsible for the international TV business on the RTL Group board, will also become a member of Bertelsmann's Group Management Committee (GMC).

In announcing the changes, a press release from Bertelsmann noted that "Gerhard Zeiler is leaving Bertelsmann and RTL Group by mutual and amicable consent to devote himself to new professional challenges."

As the long-time head of the RTL Group, Zeiler helped build up Europe's largest broadcasting group and was one of the most powerful figures in the global TV industry. In 2011, NATPE honored his successful career with a Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award at NATPE. He was the first TV executive outside the U.S. to receive that award.

An extensive B&C profile of Zeiler is available here.

In a statement, Gunter Thielen, chairman of the Bertelsmann Supervisory Board, noted: "I was very sorry to learn of Gerhard Zeiler's decision. He has rendered outstanding services to Bertelsmann and RTL Group in recent years. On behalf of the Supervisory Board, I would like to thank him for this and wish him all the best for the future. I am very pleased about the planned appointment of Anke Schäferkordt to Bertelsmann's Executive Board. Mrs. Schäferkordt has very successfully managed Mediengruppe RTL Deutschland, one of our most important businesses, for years. Together with Guillaume de Posch, she will continue the successful development of Bertelsmann's TV business and guide it into the digital future."

Thomas Rabe, chairman & CEO of Bertelsmann, added in a statement that "Anke Schäferkordt will enhance our work on the Board. With her appointment, the Bertelsmann Board gains not only an outstanding manager and deeply experienced TV executive, but also its first woman member. I firmly believe that mixed teams represent a competitive advantage. At the same time I am pleased that an internationally practiced TV manager is joining the Group Management Committee in the person of Guillaume de Posch; he will be able to provide valuable impetus."

Rabe also expressed regrets about Zeiler's decision to leave Bertelsmann: "Gerhard Zeiler expressed the wish to tackle a new task, and I can understand that. His departure is absolutely amicable; we jointly resolved the question of who would succeed in the best interests of RTL Group. On behalf of the executive board, I would like to thank Gerhard Zeiler for his longstanding and significant contribution to RTL Group's successful development into Bertelsmann's biggest revenue and profit driver. Working on the board with him was a valuable experience. Gerhard Zeiler set standards in the TV business."

Bertelsmann's holdings include television assets (RTL Group), book publishing (Random House), magazine publishing (Gruner + Jahr), and outsourcing services (Arvato). In 2010, the company, which has 100,000 employees, generated revenues of €15.8 billion ($20.9 billion).