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Publisher Axel Springer to sell newspapers to Funke Group

Germany's biggest publishing group, Axel Springer, has announced that it will sell several newspapers and magazines to an aspiring domestic competitor. It said the deal will help both sides to focus on their business.

Axel Springer said Thursday it was planning to sell two metropolitan newspapers and a range of magazines to one of its rivals on the home market, Funke Media group. It added the two newspapers in question were Berliner Morgenpost and Hamburger Abendblatt, which had been selling well in the country's capital and the port city, respectively.

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Germany publisher Axel Springer in major sale

Springer announced that the sale would also include the group's television listings and a number of women's magazines. The company mentioned a price of 920 million euros ($1.2 billion) for the transaction.

The group, which also publishes Germany's top-selling mass circulation Bild, announced that a binding preliminary agreement had been signed, but the sale remained subject to regulatory approvals which were not expected before the end of the year.

Some not amused

According to the Funke Group, the newspapers and magazines up for sale accounted for 512.4 million euros of Springer's total turnover last year. Both sides agreed the deal would enable the publishers to concentrate better on their respective core businesses.

Though Funke sees its future in the regional print market, Springer continues to invest heavily in the digitization of content, for instance through its Welt and Bild dailies.

The German Association of Journalists (DJV) anounced that it feared the sale would eventually result in job losses and cited Funke's recent harsh rationalization measures. Stefan Endter, DJV's managing director in Hamburg, told the DPA news agency that Axel Springer was basically giving up its traditional base in the port city and called the move "a catastrophe."

hg/mkg (dpa, Reuters)

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