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Axel Springer, Ringier withdraw request for approval of merger in Hungary

German media giant Axel Springer and Swiss peer Ringier have withdrawn their request for approval from Hungary's Competition Office (GVH) to consolidate their holdings in the country because of a negative statement by the Media Council which is binding for the antitrust authority, Axel Springer said on Friday.

"The combination of activities in Hungary is still planned by both companies. They will decide in due time and after having thoroughly inquired into all options of action, if, and in what way a new request for a modified merger will be filed," Axel Springer said.

Germany's Axel Springer and Swiss publisher Ringier announced in March they would consolidate their portfolios in five countries in Central Eastern Europe. The merger is worth about HUR 30 billion Econews reported earlier.

The merger has been cleared by competition authorities in all of the other countries affected.

In mid-April, a spokesperson for Hungary's newly formed Media Council said the body had not recommended the merger of the local units of Axel Springer and Ringier. The merger would "unequivocally and significantly" endanger the right to diverse sources of information, said Karola Kiricsi.

The recommendation of the Media Council binds the Hungarian Competition Office (GVH) under Hungary's Media Act.

Axel Springer publishes eight regional dailies in Hungary and business daily Világgazdaság, as well as a number of women's, home, cooking, puzzle and youth magazines.

Ringier publishes broadsheet Népszabadság, tabloid Blikk and sports daily Nemzeti Sport.