Springer books another record profit

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COLOGNE, Germany -- 2006 began with a major setback for German media giant Axel Springer as local authorities blocked its planned takeover of broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1. But, as figures released Wednesday by Springer show, the company bounced back to book another record profit.

Net profit at Springer in 2006 jumped an astounding 26.1% to €290.8 million ($381 million). This growth was achieved despite a slight drop in overall revenue, which slipped 0.7% to €2.4 billion ($3.1 billion).

Springer shares moved north following the announcement but soon ran out of steam. By late afternoon trading Wednesday, the stock was down 0.6% at €131.2 ($172).

Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner said the "noticeable disappointment" of losing ProSiebenSat.1 was compensated for by increased international expansion, in particular, the acquisition of 25% of leading Turkish broadcaster Dogan TV and 25.1% of Polish TV group Polsat.

Springer also was active in snatching up online properties, one highlight being the acquisition of a majority stake in price-comparison search engine idealo.de.

On Wednesday, Doepfner said that Springer has just closed a deal to acquire majority stakes in independent online stock news sites wallstreet-online.de, fondsdiscount.de and geschlossene-fonds.de.

Springer took a 50.1% stake in wallstreet.online and a 75.1% share of wallstreet.online capital, which operates fondsdiscount.de and geschlossene-fonds.de.

Doepfner also confirmed that Springer is launching listings magazine "TV Guide" in Germany. The title is intended as a low-cost, slimmed-down alternative to Springer's TV Digital magazine.

With a price tag of €0.50 ($0.65), the bi-monthly mag goes on sale in Germany on Thursday.

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