ProSiebenSat.1 CEO stepping down

Guillaume de Posch announces exit amid share chaos

COLOGNE, Germany -- ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Guillaume de Posch fell on his sword Tuesday, saying he will leave the company by year's end.

De Posch's resignation follows the high-profile exits of CFO Lothar Lanz and marketing and distribution boss Peter Christmann and marks a new low for the Pan-European broadcaster, which has seen its share price collapse as debt shot up and profits dipped.

Andreas Bartl, head of ProSieben's German TV operations, apparently is being groomed as de Posch's successor. He joined ProSieben's executive board Tuesday.

De Posch has been on borrowed time at least since the announcement of ProSiebenSat.1's quarterly figures in March, which showed pro forma revenue falling 2%, or 15 million euros ($23.3 million), to 729 million euros ($1.13 billion) and operating profits plunging 25% to 89 million euros ($138.1 million). ProSieben's share price, which has been sliding south for a year now, took another major hit. A year ago, ProSieben shares were above 30 euros ($46.50). Now they are trading below 7.50 euros ($11.63).

The scenes at last week's general shareholder meeting, with independent investors decrying company management and ProSieben owners -- private-equity groups KKR and Permira -- made de Posch's position untenable.

Soft-spoken and with a reputation as a solid numbers man, de Posch oversaw two multibillion-dollar takeovers -- the KKR/Permira buyout of ProSieben in 2006 and ProSieben's acquisition of KKR/Permira-controlled SBS Broadcasting last year.

Under his tutelage, ProSieben has become a European giant, the continent's second-largest broadcaster behind RTL. But weighed down by more than $5 billion in debt and with ongoing internal problems, the company de Posch will leave behind is more like a wounded animal.