Amid talk of a hostile takeover by one of its main rivals, German publishing titan Axel Springer posted a substantial rise in H1 EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization) despite the continuing effects of the ad slump.

Springer’s EBITDA rose to €51 million ($50m; £32m) for the first half of 2002, up from €33m in the same period last year, while operating earnings rose from €34m to €42m. Net profits – boosted by one-time gains and lower taxes – surged from €14m to €72m.

The publisher attributed the gains to cost savings of €55m over the period. These helped to mitigate a 9.3% drop in ad revenues to €528m and a 4.2% drop in overall sales to €1.37 billion.

Meanwhile, relations with rival German publishing group WAZ Mediengruppe continue to sour. WAZ is trying to buy the 40% stake in Springer held by Leo Kirch, possibly as preliminary to bidding for control [WAMN: 28-Aug-02].

Such attempts were scorned by Springer ceo Mathias Döpfner, who offered the analogy: “Trying to put pressure on Axel Springer through the hostile acquisition of a minority stake is like looking for polar bears to shoot in the Namibian desert.”

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff