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Generation change in Gütersloh Liz Mohn hands over power at Bertelsmann An era ends at the Bertelsmann media group: On her 80th birthday, Liz Mohn officially hands over responsibility for the clan empire to her son Christoph. By Thomas Spinnler.


Generation change in Gütersloh Liz Mohn hands over power to Bertelsmann

As of: June 21, 2021 1:48 p.m.

An era ends at the Bertelsmann media group: On her 80th birthday, Liz Mohn officially hands over responsibility for the clan empire to her son Christoph.

By Thomas Spinnler, tagesschau.de

It’s an exciting year for the Mohn family and thus also for Europe’s largest media group Bertelsmann from Gütersloh, which has been under the family’s control for almost 200 years. A few days ago, Liz Mohn announced that she would be handing the fate of Bertelsmann in the hands of her son Christoph on her 80th birthday today. Liz Mohn has been the spokesperson for the Mohn family since 2002, which directly holds around 20 percent of the company. This position is now taken over by Christoph Mohn – as well as the chairmanship of the steering committee of Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft (BVG), in which the family’s voting rights are bundled. This guarantees him control of the entire group via a right of veto and allows him to determine the strategic direction to a large extent. The remaining 80 percent or so of the capital shares in Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA are held by foundations such as the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Reinhard Mohn Foundation and the BVG Foundation. Liz Mohn is now also stepping down from the board of the influential Bertelsmann Stiftung.


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“My husband was my teacher”

Liz Mohn determined the fortunes of the media empire for a long time. She originally started at Bertelsmann as a secretary. At the age of 17 she met the then company patriarch Reinhard Mohn at a company party and finally married him in 1982.

Then she began to take on tasks in the group with his support. “My husband was my teacher,” wrote the jubilee. Reinhard Mohn took over C. Bertelsmann Verlag in 1947 in the fifth generation and expanded it into a media group. He died in 2009. It was up to Liz Mohn to help shape the change to a digital media company and to determine it in a responsible position.


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Largest book publishing group in the world

What kind of company is it that the 80-year-old is now handing over to her son Christoph? The business of the media group already starts with the children. It is active on the education market with the Bertelsmann Education Group. Bertelsmann expects a lot from the growing demand for e-learning.

The group also includes Penguin Random House, the world’s largest consumer publishing group with more than 300 independent book publishers, and the magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr, which is responsible for titles such as “Stern”, “Geo”, “Brigitte”, “Essen & Trinken” or ” Beautiful living “is known.

TV group as a source of revenue

The RTL Group, in which Bertelsmann holds a majority stake of 75 percent, with the channels RTL, RTL 2, Vox and NTV, provides the largest share of group sales. Then there is BMG, the fourth largest music publisher in the world. The second largest group division – measured in terms of sales – is the service company Arvato, which operates call centers and organizes financial services, IT services and logistics for its customers. A total of around 130,000 employees work for the media group worldwide. In the past 2020 financial year, it generated sales of 17.3 billion euros. The “Billionaires-Index” of the news service Bloomberg estimates the current fortune of Liz Mohn at 7.5 billion dollars.


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In the sixth generation

Liz Mohn was honored with the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2010 for her social commitment. Mohn donated, among other things, a singing competition and campaigns for stroke victims. The Bertelsmann Foundation is one of the largest foundations in Germany and, according to its own statements, invested 74 million euros in charitable projects last year. It was founded in 1977 by the corporate patriarch Reinhard Mohn. Critics accuse her of pursuing the interests of the group with her influence.

The new family spokesman Christoph Mohn takes over the reins of the Gütersloh group, which has its roots in the printing of religious works, in the sixth generation. In addition to the 55-year-old and Liz Mohn, their daughter Brigitte is also represented on the steering committee of the Bertelsmann management company