Aegis fails to shore up German position

Jerry Buhlmann

Aegis Media has made an abortive attempt to poach two top MediaCom executives to shore up its position in Germany. The move follows a financial scandal which has left three of Aegis’s German team in prison and a management vacuum in one of the group’s most profitable subsidiaries.

The hiring would have led to MediaCom Germany’s chief executive Jurgen Blomenkamp and chief operating officer Christian Schmalzl taking up similar positions in Aegis. The six-year contracts they were being offered are alleged to have included guaranteed bonuses and profit sharing that would have rounded up their annual packages to well over €1m (£750,000) each.

The six-year contracts were deferred until 2009 because of non-compete clauses in the executives’ existing MediaCom contracts.

Jerry Buhlmann, chief executive of Aegis Media EMEA says: "We don’t comment on anyone we may be talking to to bolster our team. We haven’t yet made any decisions on senior management in Germany."

He also declines to comment on the six-year contracts or any monetary value attached to them, adding: "We keep a close eye on market rates for top people."

The German justice department recently issued arrest warrants for six people in connection with an embezzlement investigation into television airtime payments. The most senior casualty is Aleksander Ruzicka, until recently president of Aegis Germany.

Ruzicka is accused of selling back commercial airtime to his own agency after it had been given to the agency free as part of its media-buying contracts with television companies.

Aegis insists that none of its clients has suffered as a result of the alleged fraud.

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