Swiss media group Ringier AG has acquired 100% of the shares of Axel Springer in Hungary, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, it has been announced today. The joint venture between the two companies in Poland will stay in place, while Springer will remain a minority shareholder in Slovakia.
The deal allows Ringier to expand its activities in Eastern Europe and enhance its international portfolio:
“The acquisition of the Axel Springer shares in Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia and the Baltic states is an important milestone in our business development,” said Marc Walder, CEO for Ringier AG.
“This transaction is an acknowledgement of our long-term commitment to being a modern media investor in Eastern Europe. The portfolio in these countries suits us ideally and will further strengthen the Ringer ecosystem. In addition, Serbia, Slovakia and Hungary serve as a good basis for expanding our digital sports media strategy.”
“I am pleased that we will be able to further advance our media and digital marketplaces in Poland with Axel Springer. We will work together to continue to make investments in this large and exciting market.“
For Axel Springer, the moves further cements the company’s intentions to focus on core markets and establish itself as a global leader in digital journalism and digital classifieds.
Earlier this year, the German publishing house signed a joint international cooperation agreement with Facebook, which will see content produced by the publisher distributed via various Facebook offerings, including Facebook News. As part of that partnership, Facebook will further leverage the upday news service, which began as a joint venture between Axel Springer and Samsung in 2015.
To that end, it was also announced today that Peter Würtenberger, currently CEO of upday, is to become Executive Vice President at Axel Springer on the 1st August, in a role that will see him oversee global partnerships.
In commenting on Ringier’s acquisition of Springer shares across Eastern European and the on-going partnership that will continue between the two companies in Poland, Jan Bayer, President of News Media at Axel Springer SE, said:
“Over the past 11 years, we have worked with Ringier to build Ringier Axel Springer Media AG into one of the most successful companies in Central and Eastern Europe, with strong news brands and successful digital classifieds. As part of our growth strategy, we will focus on our strategic core areas and large markets. This includes Poland with 40 million people. For them, we will further digitalize and expand our journalistic offerings and classifieds together with Ringier.”
“I would like to sincerely thank our colleagues in Hungary, Slovakia, Serbia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and everyone at Ringier for the very good collaboration over the past few years.”
Since Ringier Axel Springer Media AG was formed in July 2010, the joint venture has resulted in one of the largest media companies in Central and Eastern Europe, with some 3,100 employees and a comprehensive portfolio of 200+ digital and print products.
The acquisition of the shares should be completed over the course of 2021, subject to the approval of local antitrust authorities. Both parties have agreed to keep the sale price and the valuation of the parts of the companies being acquired confidential.