Site map    |       Subscription    |     Russian

Archive

<< < September 2015 > >>
Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30        

News

Axel Springer joins long media march from Russia

Axel Springer, Europe’s biggest news publisher by circulation, has become the latest media group to pull out of Russia after the country passed a law limiting foreign ownership of its media.

The German group sold its Russian activities, including the country’s Forbes and OK! magazines, to local publisher Alexander Fedotov for an undisclosed sum.

Ralph Büchi, president of Springer’s international operations, said in a statement: “When we entered the Russian market, we believed in the further economic development and liberalisation of the country.

“We regret that we now have to leave because of the new media law.”

Springer’s move, announced on Thursday, is the latest in a string of deals forced by legal changes adopted last year that bar foreign investors from holding more than 20 per cent in Russian media groups.

Previously, foreign stakes in radio and TV were limited to 50 per cent, with print and online media free of restrictions. The new law also forbids the appointment of senior editors by foreign-controlled entities.

Media industry executives have criticised the clampdown as another step in efforts by President Vladimir Putin’s government to control the media and rid the country of western influences amid Moscow’s falling-out with the US and Europe over the Ukraine conflict.

Although Mr Putin has been tightening his grip on the media landscape since he first became president in 2000, there has been a renewed push with the replacement of independently minded senior editors of online media, the restructuring of state-owned news agency Ria Novosti and increased blocking of critical media.

The foreign ownership limitations impact Russia’s media far beyond politically sensitive news publishing as a large chunk of the country’s glossy magazine market and entertainment TV sector is run by foreign-invested companies.

The regulatory changes take effect at the beginning of 2016.

In April, Finnish media group Sanoma agreed to sell its 33 per cent stake in Vedomosti, the business newspaper partly owned by the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, to Demyan Kudryavtsev, the former chief executive of Kommersant, a rival business publication.

Meanwhile, an attempt by Hearst Shkulev Media — the Russian arm of the American group — to buy out Sanoma’s stake in Fashion Press — a jointly owned group that publishes the Russian versions of Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Esquire — was blocked last month.

Discovery Communications of the US also brought its Russia operations in line with the new rules by injecting them into a new joint venture with Russian-owned National Media Group.

As part of the Springer sale, Regina von Flemming, chief executive of Axel Springer Russia, will take a 20 per cent stake in the business. She will stay on as adviser to the new chief, who has yet to be appointed.

Ms von Flemming told the Financial Times: “I am taking this step because I want to maintain the stability that has been built up [in the business] over the last 11 years.”

The sale will not have a significant business impact on Springer, as it constitutes a modest part of the German group’s revenues.