Wednesday 7 December 2016

German media giant targets digital deals after FT miss

Harro ten Wolde

Published 05/08/2015 | 02:30

Copies of the Financial Times newspaper are seen on display at a newsagents in London. Photo: Bloomberg
Copies of the Financial Times newspaper are seen on display at a newsagents in London. Photo: Bloomberg

After its failed bid to buy the 'Financial Times', Germany's biggest news publisher Axel Springer will concentrate on digital expansion through small and medium-sized deals, the company said yesterday.

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Springer was outbid by Japan's Nikkei in an attempt to buy the FT from Pearson.

Chief executive Mathias Doepfner did not rule out large deals in future, but he said he saw few assets on the market similar to the FT, with its strong brand name and significant digital potential. "We gladly would have bought the FT," Doepfner told reporters yesterday. "But in the end the price was too high... It is important to regard price discipline."

Doepfner had long sought to buy a big English language title, but the FT deal slipped away because of the family-controlled company's financial prudence and conservative bidding strategy. Springer now wants to expand further in international digital journalism and said foreign revenues grew to almost half its total sales.

The company owns 50pc of the European edition of US-based political news site Politico, which was launched in April, and Springer said the website politico.eu had over 1.5 million visits and more than 1 million unique visitors in July.

Springer is increasing subscriber numbers, including at its tabloid Bild, Europe's best-selling daily.

Its number of digital subscribers for Bild and broadsheet Welt rose by 9pc to 348,000 in the quarter from 320,000 in the previous quarter.

Springer earlier reported second-quarter core earnings that beat the most optimistic analyst forecasts, driven by classified ads, while its newspaper subscription profits fell. Springer's shares rose by more than 6pc. (Reuters)

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