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Axel Springer weighs possible split of content, classifieds - CEO

Axel Springer weighs possible split of content, classifieds - CEO
The logo of the German publisher Axel Springer is seen outside its headquarters in Berlin August 7, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo -
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Thomas Peter(Reuters)
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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Axel Springer <SPRGn.DE> is considering splitting its fast-growing digital classified advertising business from its content operation in a bid to enhance shareholder returns, CEO Mathias Doepfner said on Wednesday.

The German publisher is looking to the precedent set by Norwegian media group Schibsted <SBSTA.OL>, which plans to spin off and list its classified ads business to enable it to grow through mergers and acquisitions.

Addressing an investor presentation in London, Doepfner referred directly to Schibsted and said: "We are constantly evaluating and discussing structural issues."

Management was also examining alternatives to unlock value and growth, and would act in the interest of shareholders.

Springer's digital classifieds business, which includes jobs site Stepstone, real estate and other properties, is growing faster than its news operation, where its top bet is millennial-focused news outlet Business Insider.

In the first nine months of 2018, earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in the digital classifieds business grew by 15 percent.

Their share of overall core earnings grew by 3 percentage points to 61 percent.

Doepfner said he expected revenues growth at digital classifieds of more than 10 percent over the next three years. Otherwise, the Berlin-based company reiterated the guidance it gave when it published third-quarter results.

(This story has been refiled to correct spelling of CEO's first name.)

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine, editing by Riham Alkousaa and Elaine Hardcastle)

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