Bauer publishing house takes over “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung”
As of: 3:45 p.m. | Reading time: 3 minutes
The sale of the Mitteldeutscher Verlag based in Halle has been officially announced. The Hamburg-based publisher Bauer Media, as WELT previously reported, is taking advantage of the profitable regional newspaper. But there is also criticism.
Dhe Hamburger Bauer Verlag buys the “Mitteldeutsche Zeitung” in Halle. The seller is the media group DuMont. WELT had previously reported in detail on the sale and its background. DuMont confirmed the research on Wednesday morning after DuMont CEO Christoph Bauer had informed the staff of the Mitteldeutscher Verlag.
The Bauer Media Group took over the approximately 1,100 employees of the Mitteldeutscher Verlag, all contractual agreements remained, DuMont informed in a message. Bauer-Verlag in Saxony-Anhalt already owns the “Volksstimme” in Magdeburg, and economic synergy effects are expected accordingly.
The takeover creates a “good starting point to maintain regional journalism in Central Germany in the long term,” said Marco Fehrecke, head of the media group in Magdeburg. Both newspapers have a total circulation of around 300,000 copies.
However, the Bundeskartellamt still has to approve the purchase. Although both sheets appear in the same state, the distribution areas are different. A promise can therefore be assumed, probably Bauer and DuMont have already felt in the matter with the competition guardians.
The German Association of Journalists (DJV) in Saxony-Anhalt meanwhile speaks of a “black day for media diversity” in the state. In the future, Bauer, a single publisher, will dominate the daily newspaper landscape. The association urges the future owner “to assume his publishing responsibility”. Because the DJV fears job cuts, even in the editorial offices, despite the announcement to take over all employees.
Criticism came on Wednesday from the parliamentary group of the left in the state parliament. The decision to sell was motivated “purely economically”: “It is a symbol for the crisis in the print media as a whole.” Under no circumstances should there be a joint editorial team for the two newspaper titles. The journalistic independence of both titles must be preserved.
In addition to the newspaper, the profitable publisher also includes advertising papers, a regional television station and a printing company that also prints the “Leipziger Volkszeitung”, for example. According to WELT information, the purchase price is around 50 million euros. There is no official information about the purchase price.
The media group DuMont had offered their newspapers for complete sale last year. Because no publisher was interested in the entire package, the individual titles are now being handed in. The Berlin publishing house has already gone to the entrepreneurial couple Silke and Holger Friedrich. The “Hamburger Morgenpost” is also expected to be handed in. The Funke media group is among those interested (WELT reported). The “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” and the “Express Köln” will initially remain with DuMont.
The decision to sell was not an easy one, said DuMont co-partner Isabella Neven DuMont. The publishing house in Halle had “developed remarkably”. But: “The use of synergies is the key to long-term success in the regional newspaper business.” That is why the DuMont owners are convinced that the Bauer Group is “the right new owner”.
As logical as the purchase for the Hamburg publishing house, which makes its money primarily from magazines, is – it was actually not as urgent for DuMont. According to publishing experts, the heirs of the media company have noticeably lost interest in the newspaper business for a while. They also expected business to deteriorate in the future also for the previously profitable brands.
When the “Hamburger Morgenpost” is soon to be sold off, DuMont will have developed back into a purely regional newspaper house that wants to position itself much more digitally in the future. But this requires capital to continue investing in existing digital business areas, for example in online marketing.
However, the company’s balance sheet for 2018 shows an annual loss of EUR 85.7 million despite an increased operating profit of EUR 76.6 million. The reason is above all unscheduled depreciation, explains a spokeswoman, specifically it means value adjustments on the publishers in Berlin and Hamburg.