Axel Springer Pulls Proposed French Tabloid

09 July 2007

BERLIN: The long-awaited launch of Axel Springer's new French tabloid daily newspaper holds "more risks than opportunities" according to Andreas Wiele, head of the publisher's international division. Hence Friday's decision to cancel the launch of the €120 million ($163.5m; £81.3m) project.

In an interview with FT Deutschland, Wiele claimed the main reason for the retreat is the limited number of outlets for newspaper sales in the French market - a statement some observers regard with scepticism as Springer will have been well aware of that fact before contemplating the venture.

The project would have seen the launch of a French version of Springer's German title Bild, Europe's top-selling newspaper with 3.5 million daily sales.

In Germany, Bild retails through 120,000 sales points, whereas in France, there are only 30,000 outlets, according to German publishing industry specialists. Such a fundamantal fact cannot have come as a surprise to the publishing giant - second only in Europe to the Bertelsmann Group.

Says Wiele: "After today's decision, our growth efforts will concentrate mainly on digital media and the development of our existing print titles." The group, however, is "actively looking at" online projects in other nations including China.

Meantime, Springer intends to maintain its existing presence in France where its portfolio includes four magazines: Télé Magazine, Vie Pratique Gourmand, Vie Pratique Madame and Vie Pratique Santé.

The Teutonic titan last week also revealed its intention to buy a 41.4% stake in Paris-listed women's internet portal The deal is worth an estimated €288m.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff