Deutsche Bank appears to have won the race to take over the 40% stake in Europe’s largest newspaper publisher, Axel Springer, held by crumbling German media giant Kirch Gruppe, and will reportedly sell the shares later this year.

Commerzbank had been attempting to purchase the stake, but failed to put together a group of banks to back its plans. It was recently forced to hand back its mandate to sell the shares after disagreements with Springer’s management [WAMN: 14-May-02].

Deutsche has first refusal on the stake, used by Kirch to secure a €720 million ($652m; £449) loan, and is now expected to take over the holding and offer it to institutional and private investors in a placement worth around €810m early in the second half of 2002.

The final obstacle to these plans is a secondary option to buy the shares held by Bayerische Landesbank, J P Morgan Chase and Lehman Brothers. However, the trio are not expected to mount any opposition to Deutsche’s scheme.

Data sourced from: Handelsblatt (Germany); additional content by WARC staff