Germany: DuMont decides to stay in the consumer media business

DuMont Media Group, one of Germany’s largest news publishing companies, will not sell off its entire collection of regional newspapers and exit the consumer media business, but is continuing to divest itself of individual regional publishing groups.

by Michael Spinner-Just | January 16, 2020

“For the next phase of its corporate development, in 2019 DuMont reviewed its portfolio in regional media, with the goal of securing its future existence and its competitiveness. In the context of this review process, DuMont has decided to continue operating the Cologne-based media house,” the company said in a press release.

German trade press reports in March last year said the company planned to exit the consumer media business, which would have left it with only two business areas: marketing technology and business information. The company neither confirmed nor denied the reports at the time, saying only that a sale of a portion of its portfolio was one of various options under consideration.

DuMont’s announcement that it would continue to own and operate its consumer media group came on Wednesday, 15 January, as the company announced the sale of the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung Media Group to Bauer Media Group in Hamburg.

In the same press release, it said it would most likely announce a decision about its Hamburger Morgenpost property later in January. It has been rumored that the troubled daily tabloid would be sold or that the printed version would cease publication.

DuMont also pointed out in Wednesday’s release that it had already handed over its Berlin publishing operations to new owners (Silke und Holger Friedrich) in September.

Following the two recent sales, DuMont still owns these titles in addition to the Morgenpost:

  • Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger (Cologne)
  • Kölnische Rundschau (Cologne)
  • The Express titles in Cologne and Düsseldorf

Sale subject to approval by anti-monopoly authority

The sale of the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung Media Group, based in Halle, in eastern Germany, is subject to approval by the German Federal Cartel Office. The group publishes the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung (MZ), the largest regional newspaper in the south of Saxony-Anhalt with a circulation of about 162,000 copies and 17 local editions.

Also included in the acquisition are the news portal; the advertising journals WochenSpiegel and Super Sonntag, with a total weekly circulation of about 1.3 million and 27 local editions; logistics and printing operations; the regional TV channel TV Halle; and ticketing and typesetting services. In recent years, the Media Group has further developed MZ’s digital offering, expanded the printing plant in Halle, and expanded logistics operations around the postal service provider MZZ-Briefdienst.

With the acquisition of the group, the Bauer Media Group pursues its intention to expand its portfolio in the regional newspaper segment. Marco Fehrecke, head of the Magdeburg Media Group (which publishes the daily Volksstimme, among other titles), will take over the management of the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung Media Group. The approximately 1,100 employees will be taken over by the Bauer Media Group and all contractual agreements will remain in place.

Synergies seen as key to long-term regional success

“The Bauer Media Group is already strongly anchored in the region. Through the expected synergy effects with the Magdeburg Media Group, we are creating a good starting position to maintain regional journalism in central Germany in the long term,” explained Fehrecke.

DuMont Supervisory Board Chairwoman Isabella Neven DuMont said, “The decision to separate the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung Media Group from the DuMont Group was not an easy one. The media house in Halle has developed considerably in recent years and has found very successful answers to the challenging conditions in Saxony-Anhalt. The use of synergies is the key to long-term success in the regional newspaper business. We are convinced that the Bauer Media Group is the right new owner for this course.”

DuMont CEO Dr. Christoph Bauer said, “The process of reviewing our portfolio was designed from the outset to be open-ended, combined with the intention to evaluate each media house in its specific situation, and to work out the best possible future option in each case. We made the decision about Halle in that context.”

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