Bertelsmann announced Friday morning that Markus Dohle will step down as CEO of Penguin Random House at the end of 2022, and will resign his seat on the Bertelsmann Executive Board, “at his own request and on the best of mutual terms.”
President & COO of Penguin Random House US Nihar Malaviya will serve as “interim successor,” reporting to Bertelsmann CEO Thomas Rabe and joining Bertelsmann’s Group Management Committee (GMC).
The moves follow the company’s lengthy effort to acquire Simon & Schuster that ended with the deal being blocked by the court. Dohle said in the announcement: “Following the antitrust decision in the U.S. against the merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, I have decided, after nearly 15 years on the Executive Board of Bertelsmann and at the helm of our global publishing business, to hand over the next chapter of Penguin Random House to new leadership.” He added, “I would also like to thank all my colleagues at Bertelsmann, and especially at Penguin Random House, with whom I have had the privilege of working closely and trustfully over the past nearly 30 years. I have led our global book business with great enthusiasm and passion and I am proud of what we have achieved together. Penguin Random House has a great future ahead, and I very much look forward to continuing to serve Bertelsmann in an advisory capacity. Today, I look back with gratitude, and forward with great confidence and joy: for Bertelsmann, for Penguin Random House, and also for me personally.”
Chairman of the Bertelsmann Supervisory Board Christoph Mohn said: “We regret Markus Dohle’s decision to leave Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House. He has sustainably focused Penguin Random House on growth and profitability. Under his leadership, our book division more than doubled its revenues and quintupled its profit. The fact that our global book publishing group is in such a strong position today is largely thanks to Markus Dohle.”
The FT notes, “Dohle is the first executive at Bertelsmann, Europe’s biggest media group, to take the blame for a series of abortive deals that have collapsed because of adverse market moves or negative antitrust decisions.” The AP reported that “he had been working under a 5-year contract set to expire in December 2025.” Dohle has worked at Bertelsmann since 1994, when he started as project manager and management associate to the ceo at Bertelsmann Distribution (which became Arvato Services). He took over as CEO of Random House in 2008.
In a note to staff, Dohle wrote: “To all of you, I am eternally grateful for sharing this journey and for your support and trust. It has been the honor of my professional life–and a lot of fun–to serve you, our authors, their agents, our booksellers, and ultimately our readers on a daily basis. And looking at our community around the world, we can all be proud of what we have built and achieved together.”