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Publishers begin new chapter in eastern Europe

Swiss publisher Ringier will join forces with Germany’s Axel Springer to combine their eastern European operations. The new company will be based in Zurich.

In a statement, the publishers said each partner would hold 50 per cent of the new company which will employ 4,800 people.

Axel Springer will contribute the business of its subsidiaries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, while Ringier will bring its operations in Serbia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary to the joint venture.

The publishers added that the merger will “significantly enhance their strong position in these growth markets with more than 100 print and over 70 online publications”.

“Together we are so well positioned in the individual markets that we will jointly take this new company public. It will be instrumental in shaping the future of the emerging media markets in eastern Europe," said Ringier CEO, Christian Unger.

In 2009, the eastern European operations of the two firms had sales of approximately SFr601 million ($566 million).

The joint venture is expected to go public in three to five years.

However, the agreed merger must first win the approval of the antitrust authorities.

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