When it was all over, and the initial shock of rejection had subsided, the executives at German media giant Axel Springer practically congratulated each other. Oh well, their attempted takeover of the British newspaper The Financial Times just didn’t work, they said nonchalantly.
Was it just a brave face to cover up a bitter defeat? One thing is clear: The attempted coup, which was prepared in secret for almost a year but fell apart spectacularly within a few hours last week, would have been a public relations success. It would also have brought in 500 additional journalists and provided Springer with the largescale access to the English-speaking market that it had long desired.
But the €1.2 billion ($1.31 billion) offered by Japan’s Nikkei media group was €150 million more than chief executive Mathias Döpfner was prepared to pay the FT’s owners, whose biggest shareholder was the London publishing house Pearson. Ironically, when the failed takeover bid was announced, Springer’s share price went up.
In the wake of the failed deal, Germany’s only publicly traded newspaper group is now lowering its sights. Instead of pursuing merger plans with another German media group, the TV network ProSiebenSat.1, the two are instead launching a “Project to Promote Digital Startups.”
Joint investments in companies and funds are planned as part of an effort to promote Internet business ideas and young companies, which the two partners hope will eventually make money. The two companies also intend to merge their respective startup-incubator subsidiaries.