BERLIN, March 13 (Reuters) - The deputy chief executive of ProSiebenSat.1 Media is on his way out after slamming what he called a “boardroom soap opera” at the crisis-hit German broadcaster.
Conrad Albert will resign by mutual consent effective April 30, the company said on Friday, joining an exodus by top managers that has gathered pace as CEO Max Conze struggles to turn around the business.
Albert, a company veteran passed over in favour of Conze for the top job, leaves a year before his contract had been due to expire.
He appeared to have committed a sacking offence when he criticised management drama at ProSieben in a newspaper interview on Tuesday, but in the end he left by mutual consent.
In a parting shot, Albert could not resist another dig, expressing in a statement “special gratitude to my long-term colleagues at ProSiebenSat.1”.
Conze has been CEO since mid-2018.
The 50-year-old former boss of UK vacuum cleaner maker Dyson has sought to offset a decline in ProSieben’s core commercial TV business by pivoting to digital advertising and e-commerce.
That has pressured margins, however, while ProSieben’s balance sheet risks being stretched by a $500 million deal struck last week to buy U.S. dating app developer Meet Group Inc .
News of that takeover and a weak set of 2019 results sent ProSieben shares to a decade low, from which they have since plunged amid a global markets panic triggered by the coronavirus to show year-to-date losses of 44%.
Citi analyst Catherine O’Neill slashed her price target for ProSieben on Friday to 8.60 euros from 15.50 euros on a weaker profits outlook and the impact of the flu-like coronavirus that is paralysing economic and social life around the world.
ProSieben’s woes have led Italy’s Mediaset to say it was considering options for the 15% stake it amassed in the company last year in an effective down payment on a European TV merger it wants but that Conze resists.
Value investor Daniel Kretinsky has, meanwhile, taken advantage of ProSieben’s share-price slide to double the stake held through his Czech Media Investment to 10%, according to a filing on Thursday. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine; editing by Thomas Seythal)