Bertelsmann CEO: 'We Lack Growth' and U.S. Presence

Thomas Rabe - PR Head Shot - H - 2011

Thomas Rabe is pushing for change, arguing that the German media conglomerate does "not have all the skills required" to benefit from the digital age.


Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe has told top executives of the German media giant that the company has an "insufficient" U.S. presence and must overcome its recent challenges of "low growth and low growth potential," according to the Financial Times.

Pushing for change, he said the company does currently “not have all the skills required” to benefit from the opportunities of the digital age.

He shared his assessment in a closed-door meeting with 500 executives at the company's headquarters in Gutersloh, Germany about eight months after taking over the conglomerate, which owns European broadcast giant RTL Group and the Random House books business, among other things.

Pushing for change, the group's former CFO said the company, controlled by Germany's Mohn family, does currently “not have all the skills required” to benefit from the opportunities of the digital age, according to the FT. Bertelsmann must "make sure we get a piece of that cake," he said about expanding digital revenue opportunities, it added.

“We lack growth and the world around us is changing,” the FTquoted Rabe as saying, highlighting average revenue growth of just 0.7 percent in recent years.

About 80 percent of the annual revenue of about €15 billion ($19.4 billion) come from the more mature and lower-growth European market, he said.

The paper quoted Rabe as vowing to accelerate Bertelsmann growth and make it more digital and more international, including possible expansion in the U.S., Brazil, India and China, “over the next five to 10 years.” He didn't signal what kind of acquisitions he may consider.

Bertelsmann earlier this summer changed its legal form in a move that allowed the Mohn family to retain control, but gave the firm the option to sell stakes in its underlying business to raise funds.

Twitter: @georgszalai