U.S. firm buys into Springer

Further step by foreign players into domestic market

COLOGNE — U.S. investor Hellmann & Friedman has acquired a 19.4% stake in Germany’s largest newspaper publisher, Axel Springer.

The move follows the recent takeover of TV group ProSiebenSat 1 by U.S. producer Haim Saban and marks a further step by foreign investors into a market hitherto held exclusively by local players.

The stake in Springer is half of the assets that the Kirch Group used to hold in the publishing house at the time of the group’s insolvency last year.

Springer CEO Matthias Doepfner welcomed the participation of Hellmann & Friedman, stating, “The company has distinguished itself in the international media business and recently showed its commitment to the German market at ProSiebenSat 1.”

Three months ago, Hellmann & Friedman was one of the investor groups that supported Saban in his takeover of the TV group from Kirch’s assets.

With the takeover of the Springer stake, Hellmann & Friedman makes another indirect move toward ProSiebenSat.1, as Springer is the TV group’s second-largest shareholder with 13.45%.

Hellmann & Friedman CEO Brian Powers, who formerly headed Australian media group Publishing & Broadcasting, will be nominated for a seat on Springer’s supervisory board.

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