Gunther Thielen: BERTELSMANN


Gunter Thielen didn't expect to play peacemaker when he took over as chief executive of Germany's Bertelsmann in August 2002. The company was laden with $3.5 billion in debt and a slew of dubious new assets, including the controversial online file-sharing site Napster and the now defunct Rosie magazine in the U.S. Still, Thielen's biggest challenge was an internal one: Thomas Middelhoff, the flamboyant CEO Thielen replaced, left behind a simmering crisis between the $22 billion firm and its key owners, the Mohn family. Reinhard Mohn, the 82-year-old patriarch, was so upset by Middelhoff's tenure that he rewrote his own governance...

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