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Exclusive: KKR names Sarnoff head of Americas media and telecoms team

By Greg Roumeliotis

NEW YORK (Reuters) - KKR & Co said on Thursday that Richard Sarnoff, a former senior executive at European media conglomerate Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA, would succeed Alexander Navab as head of its Americas media and telecommunications industry team.

The move allows Navab to focus on his role as sole head of KKR's Americas private equity group after co-leading the business with Michael Michelson since 2008. Michelson stepped down as co-head in May to focus on investing for KKR.

Navab had also shared leadership of the Americas media and telecommunications industry team with Thomas Uger, who left KKR earlier this year and joined Aryeh Bourkoff's investment banking boutique LionTree LLC.

Sarnoff, who is a former co-chairman of Bertelsmann's U.S. division, will also be a managing director at KKR, the New York-based firm said in a memo this week announcing his appointment to its fund investors. A KKR spokeswoman confirmed the contents of the memo.

Sarnoff left Bertelsmann, best known for its TV arm RTL and book publisher Random House, in 2011 to work as a senior adviser for KKR and sit on the board of directors of music rights management company BMG, a joint venture between KKR and Bertelsmann. Bertelsmann acquired KKR's stake in BMG last year.

Sarnoff also served on the board of Weld North LLC, an investment partnership between KKR and Jonathan Grayer, the former chief executive of education company Kaplan Inc.

A publishing veteran, Sarnoff is credited with spearheading Bertelsmann's digital media efforts and orchestrating its acquisition of Random House.

As chairman of the Association of American Publishers, he helped negotiate a class action settlement between Google Inc and publishers who accused Google of copyright infringement because it made their books available online.

KKR's media and communications investments include TV ratings company Nielsen NV and stock photography company Fotolia. Earlier this week, KKR said it would invest in the internet shopping sites of Switzerland's Ringier AG.

(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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