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Axel Springer eyes incremental acquisitions in 2019 - CEO

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By Reuters
Axel Springer eyes incremental acquisitions in 2019 - CEO
FILE PHOTO: CEO of German publisher Axel Springer SE Mathias Doepfner holds a speech during the annual news conference in Berlin, Germany, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke   -   Copyright  HANNIBAL HANSCHKE(Reuters)

BERLIN (Reuters) – German publisher Axel Springer <SPRGn.DE> will look to bolster its existing businesses with incremental acquisitions in 2019, CEO Mathias Doepfner said, but does not, for now, plan major deals that would require outside financing.

“We can finance this out of the money we are earning,” Doepfner told reporters at a year-end function.

If interesting opportunities appear “by the roadside”, we can talk about them, added Doepfner, saying Springer could raise capital or look at stock market listings to finance possible deals.

“At the moment this is not a problem – the organic growth that we want, we can achieve out of the cash flows that are there,” he said.

Springer, best known as publisher of the Bild and Welt dailies, has built up a dynamic digital classifieds business that is outgrowing its content properties.

However, despite addressing the idea of splitting the two at an investor day this week, following such a move by Norwegian publisher Schibsted <SBSTA.OL> that was well-received by investors, Springer has played down the idea.

Doepfner showed little interest in German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media <PSMGn.DE>, citing the weakness of its core commercial TV operation.

A merger between Springer and ProSieben was blocked by regulators in 2005.

“From today’s point of view the attraction of attempting this step is a lot less,” he said. “Linear TV still faces a lot of strategic challenges that print, to some extent, has already put behind it.”

(Reporting by Klaus Lauer, Writing by Douglas Busvine, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)