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Swiss publisher Ringier gives Schröder work

Schröder will advise Zurich-based publishers Ringier from January

(Keystone)

Swiss publisher Ringier has hired former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as an adviser on international political affairs.

The announcement comes a day after Schröder handed the keys of the German parliament to Christian Democrat rival Angela Merkel.

Schröder will take up his post in January at the Zurich-based Ringier, the largest publishing house in Switzerland, said publisher Michael Ringier.

No compensation details were disclosed. "As a chancellor he was a modest man," Ringier said. "If it was about money, he could surely have taken another job."

Schröder, who was Germany's seventh post-war leader, handed over to new Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday and his mandate officially ran out at midnight on Wednesday.

Ringier said Schröder would not become a member of the board of directors or any other panel, but will be available for consultations.

The former German leader probably will be in Zurich once or twice a week and has been given a fifth-floor office at the company's headquarters, located in the city's lakeside area.

"I am convinced that Schröder's international experience will enrich our firm, in that publishers also have to be politically active," Ringier said. "You don't offer a contract stating something like 40 hours or so a week to such an individual."

Ringier indicated Schröder could perhaps join the company on trips – the company also has extensive holdings in Eastern Europe – and that the exact form of cooperation would still have to "somehow evolve".

Memoires

Schröder, 61, has rejected suggestions that he could pick up company directorships, saying instead that he would like to return to his roots as a lawyer and plans to write a book about his turbulent years in government.

He has said he would like to remain involved in politics, but only in the arms-length style of Social Democrat grandees such as 79-year-old former party chairman Hans-Jochen Vogel.

Helmut Schmidt, another Social Democrat who was chancellor of West Germany from 1974 to 1982, later became joint publisher of Germany's influential Die Zeit weekly newspaper.

Ringier, publisher of the Swiss daily tabloid Blick, also owns a number of other newspapers, television programmes and magazines in German and French.

The 170-year-old firm also publishes over 40 newspapers and magazines in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro and Slovakia.

It also is involved in publishing books and magazines in Hong Kong, China and Vietnam and owns a printing company in Hong Kong.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Swiss publisher Ringier has more than 6,000 employees around the world.

In 2004 Ringier reported a turnover of SFr1.1 billion ($850 million) and a operating profit of SFr55.6 million.

For 2005 the company is expecting a 10% increase in profit.

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In brief

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's mandate officially ran out at midnight on Wednesday.

Having lost the federal election on September 18 – which he had called – Schröder renounced any function in the new coalition government of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Schröder, 61, will take up his post in January at the Zurich-based Ringier publishing house as an adviser on international political affairs.

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