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June 18, 2021

German media group WAZ to withdraw shares from Romania

One of the largest media groups in Europe, the German company WAZ is to reportedly withdraw from Balkan markets, according to a Deutsche Welle report quoted by Mediafax. Thus, the company will withdraw its shares from Romania Libera daily, the only media form it still has in Romania.

Bodo Hombach, director of German WAZ Media Group, which operates many newspapers in the region, has voiced sharp criticism of abuse of power and collusion between governments and oligarchs throughout South-Eastern Europe, German daily Handelsblatt writes. Speaking about a planned complete pull-out of the region, Hombach said that it is motivated by the unfavourable business climate caused by “widespread abuse of power.” “The close intertwining of oligarchs and political power is poisoning the market,” stated Hombach.

In Serbia, WAZ is staging a pull-out planned to end by the end of 2010 after a full-scale conflict with the Serbian government on the occasion of WAZ’s failed bid to buy daily Novosti. Handelsblatt writes that Serbia is a “special case” for WAZ, for it was even “chased out of the country” by the government. Nevertheless, the WAZ director feels an overall lack of trust for the whole region of South-East Europe. “Oligarchs in the Balkans are more and more buying for themselves in order to exert political influence, not in order to win money. We cannot stand up to such market-destroying competition,” said Hombach. Howeverm according to Deutsche Welle, this will not affect their business in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria, WAZ owns mass circulation daily newspapers Trud and 24 Chasa. “We have no agreements about Bulgaria. The interests and the offers that have been put on the table are no grounds for any imminent deal. Rumours are circulating constantly, but they often emanate from people who wish to buy our publications. Rumours don’t influence us – we consider the numbers, the offer itself, at future possibilities for development, and then we make assessments,” Hombach said.

The WAZ-Mediengruppe (WAZ-Mediagroup) is Germany’s third largest newspaper and magazine publisher with more than 500 publications in nine countries. Besides Germany these are Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, and Russia. It also owns parts of Austrian Kronen Zeitung and Kurier. It is privately held by the founders’ families and is headquartered in Essen.

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