Axel Springer puts Turkish deal on hold

Over tax dispute between Dogan Yayin and Turkish govt

STOCKHOLM -- German publishing giant Axel Springer has suspended its deal to buy a 29% stake in Turkish media group Dogan Yayin, due to an unresolved tax dispute between Dogan Yayin and the Turkish government.

The Turkish media giant, which owns national channels TNT, Kanal D and Star TV and is a partner in news network CNN Turk, faces a fine of up to $3.3 billion for unpaid taxes. If imposed, the fine would bankrupt the group.

Dogan Yayin says the tax charges are politically motivated and a reaction to its reporting on a political financing scandal connected to the AKP party of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Springer had planned to pay around $240 million for 29% of Dogan Yayin but pulled out this week, citing the tax issue. A Springer spokeswoman said if the dispute could be resolved, the German company would consider taking a stake again.