Axel Springer Sells Book Group
Feb. 11, 2003
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) _ German newspaper and magazine group Axel Springer Verlag is selling its Ullstein Heyne List book group to Bertelsmann AG's Random House division, the companies said Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed.
Springer, publisher of Germany's biggest daily newspaper, Bild, cited weak prospects for the German book publishing industry and said the sale was part of an effort to concentrate on its core business.
Ullstein Heyne publishes Tom Clancy, Stephen King and John Grisham in German.
The head of Springer's book and electronic media dvision, Hubertus Meyer-Burckhardt, said that a restructuring effort at the book group was making progress.
But ``we see in the current structure no sufficiently attractive prospect of profits, despite the measures that have been introduced,'' he said in a statement.
The division's earnings have been burdened by slow book sales in Germany as a whole and by writeoffs on book rights bought in earlier years.
The division lost 46 million euros ($49.5 million) last year before interest, taxes and amortization, most of which came from Ullstein Heyne, Springer said. It also has an art book publisher, WeltKunst-Verlag, which was not part of the deal.
Bertelsmann's chief executive, Gunter Thielen, said the acquisition showed the company's ``trust in the German book market.''
``The book business is for Bertelsmann a core business, which we are strengthening in Germany with this step,'' Thielen said in a statement.