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ProSieben to slash dividend, replaces chief financial officer

FILE PHOTO: The logo of German media company ProSiebenSat.1 is seen in front of the headquarters in Unterfoehring

BERLIN (Reuters) - German media group ProSiebenSat.1 said on Thursday it was replacing its chief financial officer and proposing slashing this year's dividend as it announced a nearly 20% drop in operating profit in 2022 to 678 million euros ($747.56 million).

The board will propose to the annual general meeting (AGM) a dividend of 0.05 euros per share, amounting to 11 million euros total, compared to 0.80 euro per share in the previous year, the company said in a statement late on Thursday.

This was because it now expected its financial leverage ratio to be "above the upper end of the target corridor" at the end of 2023.

It said it would replace as CFO Ralf Gierig with Martin Mildner, 53, former financial chief of United Internet.

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"Due to his extensive experience in the areas of e-commerce and digitization, he will be able to provide valuable impetus in the implementation of our growth strategy," said CEO Bert Habets.

Revenue sank last year by 7.4% to 4.16 billion euros, the company said, due to a macroeconomic downturn in the German-speaking region. It expects sales to stagnate this year at around 4.1 billion euros, while adjusted EBITDA should drop to around 600 million euros.

"We anticipate a significant recovery in the important advertising business in the second half of the year in parallel with the forecast general economic development," said Habets.

The company had last month announced plans to cut jobs and reduce costs, pinning the media group's focus on its in-house streaming platform Joyn.

ProSiebenSat.1 had delayed its results for 2022 and also its AGM, citing regulatory questions around its Jochen Schweizer mydays business, which provides adventure experiences such as ballooning and bungee jumps.

On Thursday it said its AGM, originally planned for May 2, was now scheduled for June 30.

($1 = 0.9069 euros)

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Josie Kao)