Springer goes to Turkey for TV acquisition

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After failing in its bid to buy German broadcaster Pro7Sat.1, Berlin-based publisher Axel Springer has moved south, acquiring a 25% stake in leading Turkish television group Dogan TV for €375 million ($480 million) from parent company Dogan Yayin Holding.

The move follows News Corp.'s $80 million deal to take a majority stake in Turkey's Huzur Radyo TV channel in July and is an indication of the strength of the Turkish ad market, which has bounced back after the fiscal collapse of 2001.

The Springer deal, which values Dogan TV at a pricey €1.5 billion ($1.9 billion), fits into Springer's plan to build on its German print empire by expanding into television.

Springer would have liked to bulk up its main German TV asset — the 12% stake it holds in ProSiebenSat.1. But a deal signed this year to buy ProSieben from Haim Saban ran aground due to opposition from Germany's media authorities. Springer has now shifted its focus to neighboring European territories.

"It is our intention to acquire stakes in leading TV broadcasters in European markets where Axel Springer is either already present through print activities or in European growth markets," Springer CEO Mathias Doepfner said in a statement Thursday.

The sale also is key to the international strategy of Dogan TV's parent company, Dogan Yayin Holding. While Dogan continues to expand locally, last year acquiring competitor Star TV for $306.5 million, the Turkish media giant is also preparing the ground for a change in Turkey's competition regulations should the country be accepted as a member of the European Union.

Dogan's media empire, which includes leading commercial channels Kanal D and CNN Turk as well as national newspapers Hurriyet and Milliyet, controls about 42% of the Turkish advertising market.

If Turkey becomes a member of the EU, Dogan may be forced to sell off some of its assets to comply with European media ownership laws.

By selling 25% of its most profitable TV business to Springer, Dogan appears to be taking preventive action against a more severe EU-led dismantling later on.
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