The discreet billionaire Mohn family, which this year celebrates the centenary of the birth of its founding father Reinhard Mohn, is trying to make the international group Bertelsmann pivot by ceding traditional media (M6 in France, RTL in Belgium). It is about being even more global and digital in the face of digital giants.
The largest German media and publishing group Bertelsmann – alias “Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA” – is a limited partnership with shares (as is for example Lagardère in France) and not listed on the stock exchange, of which 80, 9% of the shares are held by three foundations (Bertelsmann Stiftung, Reinhard Mohn Stiftung and BVG Stiftung). The remaining 19.1% is in the hands of the Mohn family. This is Christoph Mohn, one of the two boys (1) of Reinhard Mohn (deceased in 2009) – Bertelsmann’s founding father after WWII – and Liz Mohn (photo), who is the current chairman of the supervisory board of the German group present in 50 countries. Liz Mohn – 79 years old (born Beckmann, she will turn 80 on June 21), is vice-chairman of the management board of Bertelsmann Stiftung and chairman of the management board of Bertelsmann Verwaltungsgesellschaft (BVG), which family holding controls all voting rights in the general meeting of the parent company Bertelsmann SE & Co. KGaA and, as they say, of “its general partner” Bertelsmann Management SE – whose CEO has been Thomas Rabe since 2012.
From small national publishing house to multinational
Liz Mohn’s daughter, Brigitte, is also on the move as a member of the board of directors of Bertelsmann Stiftung and a shareholder of BVG. Suffice to say that the Mohn family – the widow of Reinhard Mohn in the lead, she who holds a right of veto – presides more than ever over the destinies of this group with almost bicentennial origins. Bertelsmann grew into a multinational media and publishing company, still based in Gütersloh (Germany), where its original creation dates back to 1835, when grandfather Carl Bertelsmann established a small theological publishing and printing house there. Protestant obedience, “C. Bertelsmann”, which prospered for a time under the Third Reich with the descendant Heinrich Mohn. The latter had to resign in 1947 following revelations about the publishing house’s Nazi past. Reinhard Mohn (one of his sons) then took over the company with his printing house to put it on the path to success. Died twelve years ago, the latter bequeathed to his wife Liz Mohn an international and diverse media group in music, audiovisual and the press. Billionaire and discreet dynasty, the Mohn family
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