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Bertelsmann Names Veteran Insider Ostrowski to Become New CEO

Media company Bertelsmann announced Friday that Hartmut Ostrowski, a long-serving executive who heads its printing and services division, Arvato, will take over as chief executive next year.

Ostrowski, 48, will replace current CEO Gunter Thielen on Jan. 1, 2008, with Thielen moving to become head of Bertelsmann's supervisory board, the company said in a statement.

The appointment of Ostrowski, who has sat on the executive board since 2002, was widely expected and signaled continuity at the privately held company.

Bertelsmann, based in Guetersloh, Germany, owns a range of media properties, including Europe's biggest broadcaster, RTL Group, and book publisher Random House.

Thielen, Ostrowski's predecessor as head of Arvato, has led Bertelsmann since 2002.

He took over after the departure of predecessor Thomas Middelhoff, who reportedly clashed with Bertelsmann's controlling Mohn family over the company's direction and his proposal that they sell part of their stake.

Bertelsmann has made a recovery under Thielen, who has refocused the company on traditional businesses including book clubs and publishing.

Ostrowski's appointment and other planned changes "safeguard both continuity and new momentum in the group's development," supervisory board chairman Dieter Vogel said.

Vogel will step down after 11 years as chairman, making way for Thielen.

Liz and Reinhard Mohn echoed those comments in a joint statement.

Ostrowski's "style of leadership through partnership embodies Bertelsmann's proven corporate culture," they said, adding that he "systematically made the most of his entrepreneurial freedom."

Thielen's planned move to the supervisory board "ensures that his counsel, which we value deeply, will be retained at a key position in the company," the Mohns said.