Reach meets ideas

ProSiebenSat.1  Group

Helaba customer ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE has become the first media company to enter the DAX. Ralf Peter Gierig, Deputy CFO, discusses the consistent integration of linear TV, digital entertainment propositions and e-commerce – and the role of teamwork with Helaba in making it happen.

Let us begin with the future Mr. Gierig: the ProSiebenSat.1 Group aims to be
generating around 50 percent of group sales revenue from sources other than TV advertising by 2018. How?

We have a clear vision. The company intends over the next few years to become one of the leading entertainment and commerce businesses, with an international presence combining TV content and digital platforms in a way that generates useful synergies. We aim to offer an optimal commercial marketing environment for our own propositions and the products of our advertising customers and to make use of all distribution channels from TV to digital to point of sale. This is what we call our “omnichannel” strategy.

What does that mean in practice?
It means that we integrate entertainment offerings and settings for products even more closely. Television financed by advertising remains our core business. TV business contributes over 70 percent of our operating profit. Eight or nine year ago, however, we began to diversify our revenue sources. We leverage our extensive reach in TV and on digital platforms to incorporate commerce investments and attractive business models into our portfolio. This involves the group marketing these products through its TV broadcasters and accelerating their growth with free advertising time. Following the “reach meets ideas” principle, this approach enables us to tap into new market segments and finance growth. Good examples of this include weg.de, Flaconi and the Verivox comparison portal. One of the great advantages of this approach is that we become very familiar with the interests and needs of consumers – that is to say with the customers of our own advertising customers. We know precisely what both sides want and can therefore bring products and users together very effectively.

So you have found the ideal position between traditional television and the
digital world?

That’s right. ProSiebenSat.1 is both a linear and a non-linear entertainment powerhouse
with an associated – and rapidly expanding – commerce business. The two fit hand in glove and we reap the benefits of the resulting synergies. This makes ProSiebenSat.1 the first media group consistently to implement the combination of linear TV, content production, digital entertainment offerings and e-commerce.

ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE was added to the DAX in March 2016. What are the
main challenges this throws your way as Deputy CFO?

We are the first media company in the DAX and are attracting much greater attention in
the capital market. This is something for which we had taken good time to prepare.
Joining the DAX has made no significant difference to our day-to-day operations though: our primary objective remains sustainable and profitable growth in a fast-evolving competitive environment. We operate in an ever more global market alongside players like Facebook, Google and Amazon. The key here for ProSiebenSat.1 is to make the most of our strengths in our home market.

Investors value the speed with which your corporate strategy is developing. What
implications does this fast tempo have for a bank that wants to stay on the pace?

When it comes to corporate banking, we intentionally follow a primarily local, pan-European commercial banking strategy. You will find no US investment banks among our lenders, for example. However fast-moving our markets might be, our preference in banking is for long-term collaboration. The Anglo-Saxon approach differs markedly from our idea of banking and long-term partnership. Working together as genuine partners in a relationship built on mutual trust is key from our point of view. Speed, realism and an eye for profit are also critical, of course, and fortunately in Helaba we have a partner that meets all of these requirements.                                         

“Following the “reach meets ideas” principle, we are tapping into new market segments and financing growth.”

Ralf Peter Gierig
Deputy CFO ProSiebenSat.1 Group

Ralf Peter Gierig Deputy CFO ProSiebenSat.1 Group
Ralf Peter Gierig
Deputy CFO ProSiebenSat.1 Group
Pro Sieben Bildschirme

What are main features of your teamwork with Helaba?
The chemistry is right, not just between the individuals involved but also between the two organisations. We have the same understanding of values and a clearly defined commitment to the same objectives. Naturally I also have to consider a bank’s financial position and whether it actually has the capacity to make funding or risk capital available. In Helaba we have found a partner that always co-operates constructively with us and that manages to find solutions even in challenging situations. We are pleased to be able to count Helaba among our most favoured banks.

How important to the relationship are digital and human networks?
I have to say that for me, corporate banking has always been a people business and nothing has changed in that. Many of the financial products and solutions that we need are specifically tailored to our requirements, a situation that presupposes intensive dialogue with the bank’s relationship manager. It is quite clear though that more and more in the area of standard products and back office functions can safely be digitalised and automated. Banks too need to have an efficient cost base. We as a corporate customer, however, depend absolutely on having direct personal access to our contacts at Helaba. This is important for the success of individual projects and for teamwork in general.

What comes next on the teamwork agenda?
We are already in discussion with Helaba about further joint projects, that much I can say.
I see no sign of us running short of ideas in the future either and I look forward to a continuation of our robust business relationship and the mutual trust and respect that underpins it.

“For me, corporate banking has always been a people business.”

Ralf Peter Gierig
Deputy CFO ProSiebenSat.1 Group

Trust is one of the essential pr erequisites for successful teamwork. That “the chemistry is right” between Helaba and ProSiebenSat.1
Media SE stems from the skill, focus and reliability always exhibited by the people r epresenting the two organisations. The partners share
the same understanding of binding communication and appreciate the importance of mutually
beneficial co-operation.

The relationship began almost five years ago, when PE owners KKR and
Permira pulled out, and grew much closer after a fast start in the areas of foreign exchange and interest hedging in particular. Later came
more obvious commitments in finance and the capital market and
in December 2016, Helaba assisted ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE with its
first venture into the promissory note market – a € 500 m issue –
in the role of joint lead arranger. Potential remains to develop the
relationship further in future.

Further selected stories

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