Helge Sasse Resigns as CEO of Germany's Senator

2:46 AM PST 05/23/2014 by Scott Roxborough
Helge Sasse

After major losses last year and with a takeover looming, Sasse will leave the Berlin-based producer/distributor after 8 years at the helm.

Helge Sasse is stepping down as CEO of Senator Entertainment after more than eight years running the German producer/distributor.

Sasse announced his resignation Friday, He will step down as of June 30, 2014.

The move comes after a disastrous year for the Berlin-based company that has forced Senator into a major restructuring. As part of that, British investment group Sapinda will take majority control of Senator and reposition the group to focus more on in-house productions and less on international acquisitions. Sapinda will inject capital into Senator to bankroll the restructuring and new productions.

STORY: Germany's Senator Entertainment Restructuring After Massive Loss

"Senator Film is at a crossroads,” said Sasse. “2013 did not live up to our expectations. I intend, after eight years of many wonderful highs and also lows, to take responsibility for this. We have already taken steps to implement a capital increase. Once this has been completed, I will clear the path for a change in leadership and new direction for the company.”

Sasse, an outsider in Germany's tightly-knit film industry, always embraced risk in his management of Senator. After nearly busting the company once before, that approach paid off handsomely in 2012 when French comedy The Intouchables became a massive hit in Germany, earning $80 million for Senator and giving the group a new lease on life.

Sasse used the cash to fuel another risky expansion, snapping up high-profile acquisitions, including David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects and Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, which did not deliver at the German box office.

Last year, the company booked a net loss of $38 million (€27.4 million) as revenues fell 47.1 percent to $37.5 million (€27.1 million). Part of that was due to a massive $15 million (€10.8 million) write-down on film assets in preparation for Sapinda's buyout.

Andreas Pres, Chairman of Senator's supervisory board , thanked Sasses for his work over the years and for his “bold decision” to assume responsibility for Senator's recent problems.

Sasse will continue to work closely with Senator as a producer.

With Sasse's exit, company chief financial officer Markus Maximilian Sturm is the sole remaining member of Senator's management board and will take over as interim chairman as of June 21. The company plans to appoint a second member to the board in the near future.

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