In another indication that Germany, erstwhile ‘tiger economy’ of Europe, is the hardest hit of all EU member states by the global recession, Axel Springer Verlag announced Thursday it will axe ten percent of its workforce by 2003.

Springer, Europe’s largest newspaper publisher, currently employs 14,000 across the continent. A number of recessionary factors have contributed to its current malaise: the decline in adspend, high paper costs and problems in its multimedia business – and not least the public disaffection of fretful shareholders Friede Springer and Kirch Gruppe, who between them control 90% of the group.

For the first time in its history the group is set to post a full year loss. Promises outgoing Springer chairman August Fischer, due to retire at the year end: “We will fully and rigorously utilize existing rationalization potential.”

Ironically, this “rationalization” is the likeliest cause of a plunge into the red, according to Springer insiders, with “provisions of several million D-marks” set aside to cover costs of layoffs and closures.

News source: Handelsblatt (Germany)