Schosser out in EM.Entertainment shakeup


COLOGNE, Germany -- EM.Sport Media CEO Werner E. Klatten has fired the head of the German television group's kids entertainment division as the company continues to struggle to offload the money-losing unit.

EM.Entertainment head Susanne Schosser is the executive out in the shakeup, with Klatten himself taking over the management and sale of the division.

The sale is key for EM, which is partly controlled by veteran German media player Leo Kirch. The company wants to focus solely on its profitable sports business, which includes German sports channel DSF, local Internet portal Sport and live sports events production group Plazamedia.

EM shares were hit hard this week on news that EM has delayed the sale of its entertainment division and written off more than half the value of the unit from its books.

Klatten announced his plans to sell EM.Entertainment last fall, before the U.S. sub-prime crisis and worldwide credit crunch. He is now finding it harder to shift the unit, which holds the rights to thousands of hours of often decades-old German cartoons.

On Wednesday, EM adjusted the book value of its kids TV assets downwards from €90 million ($133 million) to €40 million ($59 million).

EM says it is still negotiating with potential buyers but is no longer targeting a sell-by date. The combination of a contracting credit market and a glut of kids programming could mean EM will have to sit on its entertainment division for some time yet.

Meanwhile, Leo Kirch is positioning EM to play a major role in his much-ballyhooed comeback. The 81-year-old dealmaker has reportedly secured financing guarantees from Austria's Raiffeisen bank for his €3 billion ($4.4 billion) deal to market the rights to Germany's Bundesliga soccer league from 2009 to 2015.

Kirch wants EM to exclusively produce the live coverage of Bundesliga matches, which Kirch would sell on to German broadcasters.