Ringier AG, Zurich and Berlin-based Axel Springer AG will combine their foreign operations in Eastern Europe and establish a new company, in which each will hold a 50 percent stake. Axel Springer will contribute the business of its subsidiaries in Poland, Czech, and Hungary, while Ringier will bring its operations in Serbia, Slovakia, Czech, and Hungary to the joint venture. As a result, both companies will significantly enhance their strong position in these growth markets with more than 100 print and over 70 online publications. The joint venture, headquartered in Zurich and generating sales on a pro-forma basis 2009 of approximately EUR 414 million (CHF 601 million) and an EBITDA of EUR 62 million (CHF 89 million), will be one of the leading media enterprises operating in Eastern Europe. It will have around 4800 employees and with its extensive portfolio, it will be the clear market leader in the whole region in tabloids and magazines. The two shareholders also intend to take the new company public in three to five years.
Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer AG: “For both companies, this partnership is an excellent opportunity to considerably increase our journalistic core business with five market-leading popular newspapers in attractive growth markets, and it establishes optimal conditions for future expansion in the era of digitalization.”
Christian Unger, CEO of Ringier AG: “At Ringier AG, an independent company with a 177-year history, strong brands and solid values, we view this as a partnership at eye level and an excellent match for us. Together we are so well positioned in the individual markets that we will jointly take this new company public. It will be instrumental in shaping the future of the emerging media markets in Eastern Europe.”
The Board of Directors, chaired by Ralph Büchi, President Axel Springer International, will consist of two representatives each from Ringier AG and Axel Springer AG. The joint venture will be headed by Florian Fels (42), currently CEO Central Europe of Ringier AG.
Over the past decades, Ringier and Axel Springer have consistently expanded their activities in the Eastern European media markets and have a number of successful leading titles in their segments, especially tabloids and magazines. The activities of Axel Springer and Ringier in Eastern Europe are highly complementary. The two companies are an excellent match, both with respect to their competence in content and in their strategic interest. Under the guidance of the same management they are now joining efforts to take advantage of the growth opportunities of the digital transformation, which offers additional development prospects, especially to the staff of Ringier and Axel Springer in Poland, Czech, Hungary, Slovakia, and Serbia.
The transaction is subject to the consent of the responsible antitrust authorities.
On the occasion of the establishment of the new joint venture, Ringier AG and Axel Springer AG hold a press conference in Zurich on
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
at the headquarters of Ringier AG
The press conference could also be seen here as a live stream. The registered version is available here.