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Germany’s Springer sells regional papers, mags

July 25, 2013

BERLIN (AP) — Axel Springer AG, one of Germany’s most prominent publishers, is selling two regional newspapers as well as its television and women’s magazines in a 920 million-euro ($1.2 billion) deal that will allow it to focus on its main titles.

Springer said Thursday that it plans to sell the daily Berliner Morgenpost and Hamburger Abendblatt along with five television guides and two women’s magazines to Funke Mediengruppe, which owns newspapers in western and central Germany and owns or has stakes in publications in Austria and eastern Europe.

The sale is subject to approval by competition regulators, and is supposed to take effect next January.

Springer publishes Germany’s mass-circulation Bild daily and the national broadsheet Die Welt. The announcement of the sale of several publications to Funke came after it said Wednesday that it would merge the editorial operations of Bild and the company’s Berlin tabloid B.Z.

The publisher recently introduced a paywall for some of Bild’s online content. Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner said his company “will continue to follow the strategic direction to become the leading digital media group with a clear focus on the Bild and Welt groups.”

The deal will give Funke a wider reach in Germany, and the two companies agreed to set up joint marketing and distribution ventures.

Springer’s shares soared following Thursday’s announcement, trading 12.6 percent higher at 38.88 euros in Frankfurt.

Trends in the European newspaper industry overall appear to be following those set in the U.S., with falling revenues adding pressure on papers as readers switch to view their news online or on tablet computers.

Germany’s second-largest business daily, Financial Times Deutschland, was shut last year, and the daily Frankfurter Rundschau filed for insolvency and laid off all but a core staff. German news agency dapd closed this year, and most newspapers are currently seeking to cut costs.