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ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Conze departs in wake of Mediaset investment

ProSiebenSat.1 has announced the departure of chief executive Max Conze with immediate effect, while chief financial officer Rainer Beaujean has assumed the role of chairman of the executive board at the Germany-based commercial broadcasting group.

Conze joined ProSiebenSat.1 in June 2018 having previously served as chief executive of vacuum cleaner manufacturer Dyson.

No interim chief executive has been named following Conze’s departure, which comes amid reports that he was not supportive of ProSiebenSat.1’s increasingly closer relationship with Italian commercial broadcaster Mediaset. At the end of last year, Conze publicly expressed his scepticism about a merger of Mediaset and ProSiebenSat.1.

Earlier this week, Mediaset upped its stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 19.35 per cent after acquiring a further 4.25-per-cent shareholding via its Spanish arm, Mediaset España. The deal is valued at €61m ($67m) and increases Mediaset España’s total stake in ProSiebenSat.1 to 9.75 per cent overall, according to a statement from Mediaset Group, the parent company of both the Italian and Spanish arms.

ProSiebenSat.1 has also announced a change in its “strategic focus”, with a greater emphasis to be placed on entertainment operations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. ProSiebenSat.1 will focus on local and live formats, working closely with its production subsidiaries, Red Arrow Studios and Studio71.

ProSiebenSat.1 has also appointed Wolfgang Link and Christine Scheffler to its executive board. Link will head up the broadcaster’s entertainment segment, while Scheffler will continue to lead human resources.

There has also been recent upheaval at 7Sports, the sports arm of ProSiebenSat.1. 7Sports chairman Željko Karajica stepped down from his role in late February as it was announced that the business would be restructuring with the aim of becoming a “leading digital sports marketer in the German-speaking region”.

The ProSiebenSat.1 suite of channels include the flagship Sat.1 channel in Germany, along with ProSieben, ProSieben Maxx and Kabel Eins. In Austria, the group also owns and operates Puls 4, which holds Uefa Europa League rights (from 2018-19 to 2020-21).

Sports broadcast rights held by ProSiebenSat.1 include American football’s NFL, ESL esports events and WWE wrestling.