The rumors are official. Bertlesmann President Thomas Hesse is leaving the world's largest music publisher. In a statement, the company said that Hesse will step down "at his own request" on December 31st. Chairman and CEO Thomas Rabe will take on Hesse's responsibilities. Full text of the statement:
Thomas Hesse, Bertelsmann Executive Board member and President, Corporate Development and New Businesses, wishes to pursue new professional opportunities in the digital business sector and therefore has asked the Supervisory Board to release him from his Executive Board mandate. The Supervisory Board has granted this request at its meeting today, respectful of his wish for a change. Hesse will resign his Executive Board mandate on the best of mutual terms, with effect from 31 December 2013. He will remain affiliated with Bertelsmann as a consultant to the Executive Board. This advisory mandate relates especially to Bertelsmann's business development in the United States, as well as opportunities for investing in digital businesses. Hesse will not be replaced on the Executive Board. His areas of responsibility will be taken over by Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO, Thomas Rabe.
Supervisory Board Chairman Christoph Mohn said: "Thomas Hesse has played a formative role in mapping out the new corporate strategy during his nearly two years on the Executive Board. As part of Bertelsmann's strategic realignment, Corporate Development was upgraded to an Executive Board-level unit with Hesse's appointment. The Group's strategy is now being successfully implemented and is firmly anchored in the divisions. I would like to thank Thomas Hesse on behalf of the entire Supervisory Board for his efforts and the valuable discussions we have had. I wish him all the best for his future career plans."
Bertelsmann Chairman & CEO Thomas Rabe added: "With his deep understanding of digital business models, Thomas Hesse was particularly instrumental in Bertelsmann's transformation to digital. Bertelsmann has made excellent progress here. This goes for RTL Group with its billions of online video views and what is now the fourth-largest video network on YouTube, for Penguin Random House with its extensive e-book program and 120 million e-books sold per year, as well as for all our other corporate divisions, including our funds' holdings in digital businesses all over the world. Thomas Hesse established new digital forums and processes that have significantly advanced the level of expertise and knowledge transfer at Bertelsmann. He also contributed the experience of his long years in the music business to the building of the new BMG. I regret that he is leaving, but at the same time I am pleased that he will continue to serve the Executive Board in a consultative capacity. On behalf of the entire Executive Board, I would like to thank Thomas Hesse for the valuable impetus he has provided and wish him continued personal and professional success."
Bertelsmann Executive Board member Thomas Hesse noted: "I am enormously grateful to Bertelsmann and the Executive Board for giving me the opportunity to help shape the new Group strategy and the transformation to digital. Bertelsmann has been my professional home since 1996, where I have worked in various positions at RTL Group, BMG and Sony BMG, and, finally, Corporate. I am excited about how much has been achieved for the Group under the leadership of Thomas Rabe. Bertelsmann is on a very good course and this is a good time for me to move on to new challenges. I am very pleased that I will continue to serve the Executive Board in an advisory role."
Thomas Hesse joined the Bertelsmann Executive Board on February 1, 2012. Previously, he was President in charge of Global Digital Business, US Sales and Corporate Strategy at Sony BMG and then Sony Music Entertainment. Hesse came to Sony from Bertelsmann as a result of the 2004 merger between BMG and Sony Music. Under his leadership, Sony Music massively expanded its worldwide digital businesses. Hesse began his career in 1991 as a consultant with McKinsey & Company before joining Bertelsmann’s TV business, now RTL Group, in 1996 and subsequently holding various executive positions within Bertelsmann until 2008. Hesse holds a doctorate in economics and studied in Oxford, London, and St. Gallen.
Bertelsmann is an international media company whose core divisions encompass television (RTL Group), book publishing (Penguin Random House), magazine publishing (Gruner + Jahr), services (Arvato), and printing (Be Printers) in some 50 countries. In 2012, the company’s businesses, with their more than 100,000 employees, generated revenues of €16.1 billion. Bertelsmann stands for a combination of creativity and entrepreneurship that empowers the creation of first-rate media, communications, and service offerings to inspire people around the world and to provide innovative solutions for customers.