'Most-hated Manager in UK Journalism' Buys Berlin Daily

27 October 2005

Former Mirror Group ceo David Montgomery, known as a ruthless cost-cutter and dubbed by UK newspaper The Observer "the most-hated manager in British journalism", has bought Berliner Verlag, the German capital's leading newspaper group.

In fronting the £53 million ($94.6m; €78.2m) takeover, Montgomery got by with a little help from his friends - UK venture capital company 3i and US investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson, who between them hold the lion's share of the booty.

By contrast, Montgomery's investment vehicle Mecom holds a mere 15%, which - given that investment banks are not in such deals for the long run - will doubtless yield a handsome payoff within the next year or two, after the expected bloodletting.

Montgomery hailed Berliner Verlag as "an excellent company" to which he and his fellow investors "hope to be able to add further publishing assets" in the future. He promised that he and the moneymen would be "proud custodians" of the Verlag titles, "committed to the highest journalistic standards, editorial integrity and good management".

Montgomery will have to work hard to convince fearful staff that Uwe Vokottergot, editor-in-chief of BV's flagship daily Berliner Zeitung, was wrong when he wrote last week that he'd prefer to see the paper in the hands of "anybody … with a proper plan, someone who doesn't want to pillage us."

There is also concern within and outside the German media establishment that Montgomery will open the nation's door to the abysmal standards of British tabloid journalism.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff