Axel Springer and Ringier to pursue merger

Axel Springer AG and Ringier AG, two multinational media firms with extensive print media holdings in Hungary, are preparing to merge their Hungarian operations by the end of 2013, according to Hungarian economic daily, Napi Gazdaság. The companies first announced plans to merge its Central and Eastern European media operations in 2010 in hopes of expanding their footing in the region’s media market. The merger took place in neighboring countries but was blocked by the Hungarian Media Council in 2011 on grounds it would jeopardize the public’s “right to diverse information.” The companies withdrew their merger request but signaled their intention to pursue the deal in the future.

According to HVG, if approved by the Media Council, the Axel Springer-Ringier merger could create one of the largest media empires in Hungary. German-owned Axel Springer AG currently has more than 60 print and online titles in Hungary through its subsidiaries Axel Springer Budapest and Axel Springer Hungary. Swiss-owned Ringier AG’s portfolio in Hungary includes 37 titles, a majority of which are consumer and tabloid magazines, via its Hungarian subsidiary Ringier Kiado. Ringier is also a majority owner of Népszabadsag, one of Hungary’s largest-circulation news dailies.