Axel Springer: ‘ProSieben merger speculation unfounded’

German publisher Axel Springer said that speculation it could relinquish control over its business was “completely unfounded” after the Wall Street Journal reported it is in merger talks with ProSiebenSat.1

The WSJ reported yesterday that the German broadcaster and publishing companies are in early stage talks about merging their businesses – in a move that would see ProSiebenSat.1 emerge as the senior partner of a combined entity worth some €14.4 billion (US$16 billion).

However, in a statement today, Axel Springer said the company continues to pursue a transformation of the business’ legal standing to a KGaA (Kommanditgesellschaft auf Aktien) partnership limited by shares – a traditional structure for very large, publicly traded, family businesses.

Axel Springer said the goal of this is to “secure the continuation of Axel Springer Gesellschaft für Publizistik GmbH & Co./Friede Springer’s control of the company on a long-term basis and open up growth options. Thus, speculations regarding a relinquishment of control are completely unfounded”.

The ProSiebenSat.1 Group owns TV channels including SAT.1, ProSieben, Kabel Eins, Sixx, and ProSieben MAXX and operates video-on-demand portal Maxdome. It also owns international content company Red Arrow Entertainment.

Axel Springer publishes German newspapers like Die Welt and Bild and magazines like Rolling Stone and Auto Bild. It also bought German news and documentary channel N24 last year, and previously owned a stake in Schwartzkopff TV, which was sold to Talpa Media and renamed Talpa Germany.

Other assets include a majority stake in Polish on-demand site