Cautious Company, Risk Loving Boss

Bertelsmann's new CEO will keep up his dealmaking ways

It was a joke, but it says a lot about the way Thomas Middelhoff views the status of Bertelsmann, the German media giant where he will take over as chief executive on Nov. 1. Recently, Middelhoff was at a party in New York hosted by Random House Inc., the U.S. book publisher Bertelsmann bought earlier this year, to mark the launch of a memoir by Walt Disney Co. chief Michael D. Eisner. "We'll make you famous," Middelhoff quipped to one of the world's best-known CEOs.

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