Fred Kogel resigns from Constantin Film

Surprise move comes amid takeover rumors

BERLIN -- Fred Kogel has resigned as CEO of Germany's leading indie film company, Constantin Film, and will step down when his contract expires Dec. 31.

Bernhard Burgener, head of Constantin's supervisory board and a top exec at Constantin's Swiss parent, Highlight Communications, will move into the CEO spot Jan. 1 with a new three-year contract. Kogel will continue to work as consultant for Constantin in the areas of TV production, license trading and distribution.

Kogel said his decision to leave the company he has run for the past four years is "purely personal" and is not connected to takeover speculation swirling around Constantin. German financial authorities are assessing whether EM.Sport Media, the Munich-based group that recently acquired a 37.6% stake in Highlight, will have to submit a full buyout bid to Constantin shareholders.

In his four years as CEO, Kogel successfully expanded Constantin's portfolio by moving into TV production and diversifying the group's licensing business. He also revived Constantin stock, bringing it from below 5 euros a share to above 25 euros. The stock has since slumped slightly and is hovering around 17 euros ($26).