Swiss publisher Ringier has sold daily newspaper Evenimentul Zilei and business weekly Capital to a company controlled by Romanian businessman Bobby Paunescu, in a deal estimated by media reports at between EUR 4 million and EUR 8 million. The sale was accompanied by a services contract which will allow Ringier to supply the new owner of the two publication with distribution, advertising sales, human resources, IT and printing services, as well as to continue to host the editorial teams in its existing headquarters in Pipera.
Ringier Romania has also axed its glossy title Diva and intends to focus on its tabloid Libertatea and another glossy magazine, Unica. However, the Swiss firm is planning further staff layoffs for its remaining business structures.
The new owners of the two sold publications have taken onboard Claudiu Serban, former deputy general director at Ringier. He will head the newly created firm, in which he also owns a 10 percent share package, alongside Paunescu, who holds a 70 percent stake.
Marius Hagger, the head of Ringier Romania, will also take the helm of Libertatea, of which the editor-in-chief is Ana Nita. Ringier has said it is planning to focus on digitizing the newspaper.
Prior to the sale, B1TV, the news stations owned by Paunescu, formed a partnership with Evenimentul Zilei, which resulted in the TV program Evenimentele Zilei. Paunescu plans to merge all his media businesses, which include the B1TV, Vox News and Gazeta de Sud brands. He partners News Corporation in the B1TV business, of which the international media company owns 12.4 percent.
Ringier entered the Romanian market in 1992, when it launched business weekly Capital. It acquired Evenimentul Zilei in 2003. Mid-last year, the publisher set up its online division in the country. Ringier also owns a 25 percent stake in Kanal D TV station in Romania. Its Romanian business has been suffering because of falling ad sales. In 2008, it saw its ad revenues plummet by 21.4 percent due to portfolio sales. Overall, it had a 27 percent decline in turnover owing to the economic crisis. In 2008 it posted CHF 61.5 million, around EUR 39 million.