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Restructuring of the ownership structure and change of CEO » Company NZZ

The two 50% shareholders AZ Medien AG (AZ) and the company NZZ (NZZ) have agreed to reorganize their shareholdings in CH Media. AZ will hold a 65% stake in CH Media and NZZ a 35% stake. This adjustment will take place in the first quarter of 2023. At the same time, watson will be integrated into CH Media. At the same time, the Board of Directors appointed Michael Wanner as the new CEO of CH Media as of April 1, 2023. He takes over from Axel Wüstmann, who will leave the company after five years as CEO of CH Media.

With the founding of their joint venture, AZ and NZZ have joined forces and thus laid the foundation for the successful further development of their regional media business and the establishment of a strong market position for CH Media in the entertainment sector. The original agreement between the partners provided that AZ could take over the majority in CH Media in the medium term, while NZZ had the option of selling its stake in AZ. The two shareholders have been negotiating in partnership over the past few months regarding the future governance and ownership structure of CH Media. It was decided that AZ would take over the majority of CH Media and NZZ would reduce its stake to 35%. In the medium term, both shareholders are free to buy or sell the remaining NZZ shares.

Chairman of the Board of Directors and publisher Peter Wanner: “I am very pleased with the development of CH Media since 2018. This shows that the merger was strategically correct and we have a strong partner in NZZ. This partnership should be preserved. However, the adjustment of the ownership structure gives us as a family business a clear claim to leadership, which has corresponded to the basic idea of ​​the joint venture from the very beginning.”

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This step is strategically consistent for the NZZ. Etienne Jornod, President of the Board of Directors: «Over the past 20 years, the regional media of the NZZ have been an important mainstay in securing the profitability of the NZZ company. At the same time, the strategic and journalistic focus has always been more on the NZZ. As a result of the merger in 2018 with AZ, important further developments have been made and synergies used over the past four years. With the current reorganization, the NZZ is handing over management of the company to the Wanner family, but is retaining a strategic stake in CH Media. In the new constellation, the NZZ is looking forward to continuing to work closely with the AZ.”

Axel Wüstmann hands over management of the company to Michael Wanner

In the context of the adjustment of the ownership structure, the long-planned CEO change is taking 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 management of the company to Michael Wanner on April 1, 2023.

During this time, Axel Wüstmann succeeded in forming a strong Swiss media company from two independent regional companies. With the development of the two-pillar strategy “Publishing and Entertainment” and the focus and further development of the portfolio, CH Media has achieved a leading position in the Swiss media industry in recent years. Special mention should be made of the takeover of the 3-Plus Group, the expansion of radio holdings and Sunrise’s most recent strategic participation in CH Media’s national TV business.

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The shareholders already thank Axel Wüstmann for the excellent cooperation in recent years and the significant increase in value that has been achieved and look forward to further cooperation in the remaining months. Publisher Peter Wanner: «The success of CH Media in recent years is largely due to the prudent leadership of Axel Wüstmann. A big thank you to him for that.”

Axel Wüstmann: «The years for AZ Medien and CH Media were a great experience. Together with the shareholders, we were able to significantly develop CH Media in the early years of the company’s short history, so that we are in a very good starting position today. After a total of 10 years in the company, the time has come to hand over the management to Michael Wanner. I personally wish Michael every success with CH Media. I would like to thank all colleagues at CH Media for their great commitment over the past few years, which have been characterized by numerous challenges and changes. My thanks also go to the shareholders for their trust, the courage to invest and the excellent cooperation.»

With Michael Wanner, the fifth generation of the Wanner publishing dynasty takes over the reins. He is currently managing director of the news portal watson. He has brought this to success, prosperity and profitability – watson is now the third largest private news portal in German-speaking Switzerland, has an offshoot in western Switzerland and a sister portal in Germany. The designated CEO of CH Media holds a master’s degree in law and economics from the University of St. Gallen and a master’s degree in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School. Before taking over watson in 2016, he earned his spurs at the Hamburg publishing company Gruner + Jahr, where he was most recently assistant to the CEO.

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Michael Wanner: «I am really looking forward to the new task and see CH Media in a promising position for further development. Both business areas, publishing and entertainment, are in the middle of the digital transformation and are therefore facing major changes. This challenge in particular excites me a lot.”

CH Media acquires the majority of the watson news portal

In connection with the upcoming takeover of the majority in CH Media by AZ, the shareholders have further agreed that CH Media will take over the majority in FixxPunkt AG, the parent company of the watson news portal, from AZ next spring 2023. watson will thus become an integral part of CH Media. The news portal currently employs around 85 people (FTE) and reaches over 5 million users and over 20 million visits per month.

Further information:

CH Media:

Stefan Heini | Head of Corporate Communications
[email protected] | +41 58 200 54 21

NZZ:

Karen Heim | Head of Corporate Communications
[email protected] | +41 44 258 17 72

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