Mar 25 2010

Giants team up against Naspers in eastern Europe

Published by at 10:47 am under Companies,Top Stories

The growth potential of the businesses owned by SA-based media group Naspers in eastern Europe received a nasty blow with the announcement yesterday that the Springer Verlag, Germany’s biggest media group, and Ringier, Switzerland’s biggest media group, have joined forces to grow their market share in eastern Europe.

The Naspers-owned Allegro group comprises auction and fixed-price transaction platforms, classifieds platforms (ie auto, real estate, jobs and travel classifieds), comparison and social shopping sites, as well as a payments platform. These services operate in Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Yesterday Springer and Ringier announced the formation of a 50:50-owned joint-venture business, in which they will place (almost) all the media assets owned by the two companies in eastern Europe. The as-yet unnamed joined-venture company will operate in Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia, reported the Financial Times Deutschland (FTD).

The two companies bundled their resources to aggressively grow their businesses in the region. “The focus of the expansion plans is the internet,” said FTD. Among the expansion steps planned, is a buying spree of service portals, added FTD.

Recently Allegro said it also planned further acquisitions in the region. This is what Naspers has to say about the topic on its portal:  Arjan Bakker, chief executive of Allegro, and his team aim to…further diversify Allegro’s service offering.

Another part of the Springer/Ringier expansion plan: to list the joint-venture in 3 – 5 years, “to finance a second wave of digitalisation” . The giants said they had already identified a ” big number” of take-over candidates. According to FTD, the two media groups also decided to cooperate “to avoid driving prices of targeted businesses up between them”.

Not only will Ringier and Springer go in direct and aggressive opposition to Allegro in the region, they will also do it with the man which headed up MIH Internet Europe (owner of, among others, Allegro and Ricardo) until 18 months ago, namely Christian Unger. In the early days after Naspers had bought Tradus (now MIH Internet Europe) Unger was CEO of Tradus. In October 2008 Unger left for Ringier and Hein Pretorius replaced him as CEO of MIH Internet Europe.

Now Unger is back in Naspers’ life as strategist and driver of the “fight against his previous employer” in eastern Europe.

The open question: Could Naspers have forced the Ringier/Springer merger with its own merger plan? I refer to the “talks” between Naspers and Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies (DST) to pool their Polish social networks Gadu-Gadu and Nasza-klasa.pl, first reported by the Russian business daily Kommersant on 8 February 2010.

For more about the “talks”, read here.

One response so far

One Response to “Giants team up against Naspers in eastern Europe”

  1. adminon 12 Apr 2010 at 9:52 am

    Since last week we all know now that Ringier’s team-up with Springer was more of a desperate attempt to stay afloat, than a carefully hatched growth plan: Ringier released its results for the last financial year and they were shocking, to say the least.

    With hindsight, I must now say the headline “Desperate Ringier falls in the arms of Springer” would have been closer to the truth than my “Giants team up against Naspers in eastern Europe”.


Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply