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German Competition Authority

02/13/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/13/2020 05:09

Bundeskartellamt clears acquisition of Mitteldeutsche Zeitung by Bauer Media Group

Date of issue:13.02.2020

The Bundeskartellamthas cleared plans by the publishing house Heinrich Bauer Verlag KGto acquire all the shares in the media group Mitteldeutsche Zeitung GmbH & Co. KG, Mitteldeutsches Druck- und Verlagshaus Geschäftsführungsgesellschaft mbHand MZ Druckereigesellschaft mbH(together 'MDZ'). The newspapers published by Bauer include the 'Volksstimme' and several advertising newspapers in the north of Saxony-Anhalt. MDZ publishes the daily 'Mitteldeutsche Zeitung' and two advertising newspapers in its distribution area.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: 'The acquisition does not raise any competition law concerns. There are no overlaps in the distribution areas of the 'Volksstimme' and the 'Mitteldeutsche Zeitung'. Their circulation areas adjoin one another in the Harz, Salzlandkreis and Anhalt-Bitterfeld districts. As a result the two newspapers practically do not compete for the same readers. For the same reason, we do not expect any restriction of competition on the advertising and radio broadcasting markets affected either because there are no geographical overlaps.'

Heinrich Bauer Verlag KGis the parent company of the Hamburg-based Bauer Media Group. It produces and distributes newspapers and popular magazines in Germany and abroad, has shareholdings in TV and radio companies and sells advertising space in its media. The 'Volksstimme', which appears in the north of Saxony-Anhalt, is the only regional subscription daily in the Bauer Media Group's product portfolio. Bauer also publishes several (free) advertising newspapers in the north of Saxony-Anhalt and in individual districts of Lower Saxony. These are the 'General-Anzeiger', 'Elbe Kurier' and 'Ohre Kurier' as well as advertising newspapers for sub-local markets.

MDZ is based in Halle and publishes media products which appear in the south of Saxony-Anhalt: These are the regional subscription daily 'Mitteldeutsche Zeitung', the advertising newspapers 'WochenSpiegel' and 'SuperSonntag' and the local city magazine 'Aha alles Halle'.

In its merger control proceedings the Bundeskartellamt can only examine whether a merger will significantly impede competition on the markets affected. If newspaper publishers intend to merge, the authority usually examines the effects the merger will have on the reader markets and also on the advertising markets. While it is part of merger control to examine whether readers still have alternative sources to choose from, the Bundeskartellamt cannot use diversity of opinion per se as an assessment criterion in its examination.

Press release (pdf)