AZ Medien acquires majority stake in CH Media - Wanner becomes CEO

The shareholding structure in CH Media will be restructured. AZ Medien will hold a majority stake of 65 percent in the company at the beginning of 2023. At the same time, Watson will be integrated into CH Media. Michael Wanner will also take over as CEO on April 1, 2023.

CH Media
CH Media is due to change its CEO in 2023: Michael Wanner (right) will take over from Axel Wüstmann. (Images: zVg.)

By founding their joint venture, AZ and NZZ have laid the foundation for further development of their regional media business, as well as for building a strong market position for CH Media in the entertainment sector.

The original agreement among the partners provided that AZ could acquire a majority stake in CH Media in the medium term, while NZZ had the option of selling its stake in AZ.

According to the announcement, the two shareholders have now negotiated in partnership over the last few months on the future governance and ownership of the company. It was decided that AZ would take a majority stake in CH Media and NZZ would reduce its stake to 35 percent. In the medium term, both shareholders are free to buy or sell the remaining NZZ shares.

For NZZ, this step is strategically consistent. "NZZ's regional media have been an important mainstay in securing the profitability of the NZZ company over the past 20 years. At the same time, the strategic and journalistic focus has always been more on NZZ," Chairman of the Board Etienne Jornod is quoted as saying. "The 2018 merger with AZ has enabled important further developments to be made and synergies to be exploited over the past four years. With the current reorganization, NZZ is handing over the management of the company to the Wanner family, but retaining a strategic stake in CH Media."

Wüstmann hands over to Michael Wanner

In the context of the adjustment of the ownership structure, the long-planned CEO change will take place at the same time. After five years as CEO of AZ Medien and five more years as CEO of CH Media, Axel Wüstmann will hand over the reins of the company to Michael Wanner as of April 1, 2023.

During this time, Wüstmann has succeeded in transforming two independent regional companies into a strong Swiss media company, the statement continues. With the development of the two-pillar strategy "Publishing and Entertainment" and the focusing and further development of the portfolio, the company has achieved a leading position in the Swiss media industry in recent years.

Michael Wanner is the fifth generation of the Wanner publishing dynasty to take the reins. He is currently CEO of the news portal Watson. The designated CEO of CH Media has a master's degree in law and economics from the University of St. Gallen and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard Kennedy School. Before taking over Watson in 2016, he earned his spurs at Hamburg-based publishing company Gruner + Jahr, where he was most recently assistant to the CEO.

CH Media acquires majority stake in news portal Watson

In connection with AZ's pending acquisition of a majority stake in CH Media, the shareholders have further agreed that the company will acquire a majority stake in FixxPunkt, Watson's parent company, from AZ next spring 2023. Watson will thus become an integral part of CH Media.

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