Broadcaster CME appoints co-chief executives

PRAGUE, Sept 15 Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:45am EDT

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PRAGUE, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Central European Media Enterprises (CME), hit by weak TV advertising markets, tapped an executive from its main shareholder Time Warner and a consultant to Turner Broadcasting to become co-chief executives.

The appointments, effective from Sept. 16, follow the resignation last month of Adrian Sarbu, an 18-year veteran of the central European broadcaster.

CME <CETV.PR named Christoph Mainusch, who most recently worked as a consultant for Turner Broadcasting International, and Michael Del Nin, senior vice president of international and corporate strategy at Time Warner since 2008, as co-bosses.

CME, founded by billionaire Ronald Lauder, has struggled with falling television ad income in its six central and eastern European markets since the 2008 global financial crisis and is also coping with a high debt load.

Lauder described the appointments in a statement as a "dynamic combination of Michael overseeing corporate matters, allowing Christoph to focus primarily on operations."

CME raised prices earlier this year, a move which many customers balked at, including its biggest market, the Czech Republic, but which the company says will return it to growth.

The company, 49.9 percent owned by Time Warner, halved its guidance for 2013 core profit (OIBDA) after first-half results. Time Warner bought a 31 percent stake in CME in 2009 and has gradually raised its holding.

CME used a share offering this year to cut its net debt to $795 million at end-June from over $1 billion at the start of the year.

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