A 30% stake in Europe’s biggest newspaper company, Axel Springer, will be put up for sale after merger talks with Swiss publisher Ringier collapsed.

First reported in September [WAMN: 23-Sep-02], the deal involved Springer buying the Swiss group from Michael Ringier and his two sisters, who would have used the cash influx to buy the stake in the enlarged German giant.

However, talks came to an end earlier this week after Ringier decided he did not want to lose control of the business. His decision prompted sighs of relief from Swiss ministers, who had opposed the takeover of the country’s largest publisher by its German rival.

The merger’s collapse means the Springer shares will be sold on the stock exchange.

The holding is currently in the hands of Deutsche Bank, which inherited a 40% stake from defunct German media empire Kirch Gruppe as repayment of a loan before selling 10% to the newspaper giant’s matriarch Friede Springer [WAMN: 10-Oct-02].

DB will resume preparations for the public offering, though it may have to wait until the new year.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff