March 23, 2018 / 10:52 AM / a year ago

Germany's Springer confirms Turkey exit, as Erdogan ally gathers media assets

BERLIN, March 23 (Reuters) - German publisher Axel Springer said it would exit its investment in Turkey’s Dogan TV Holding, confirming the long-planned move after Dogan’s parent began talks to sell its media interests to an ally of Tayyip Erdogan.

Dogan Holding has started discussions to sell its $890 million media arm to unlisted Demiroren Holding, which owns two pro-government dailies, in a deal likely to cement media support for the president ahead of elections in 2019.

Axel Springer, which first invested in Dogan TV in 2007, has gradually whittled down its stake to 7 percent.

“We have, for some time, had the intention - and reached the necessary agreements - to withdraw completely,” a spokesman for the German firm said.

Axel Springer told a recent investor presentation it expected to raise 171 million euros from selling its Dogan TV stake in 2020 and 2022. That revenue has been secured against put options backed by bank guarantees.

Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner had flagged as early as 2016 that Axel Springer would withdraw from Turkey completely following a wave of arrests of leading journalists.

German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel, who worked for Springer newspaper Die Welt, was later arrested and held for a year after being indicted for alleged security offences. Yucel was released last month. (Reporting by Klaus Lauer Writing by Douglas Busvine)

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