Germany's Axel Springer sells all of its Russian media assets to comply with new law

MOSCOW – The Russian subsidiary of a major German publishing house on Thursday sold all of its media assets in Russia to comply with a new law.

Russia adopted a law last year that limited foreign ownership in Russian media to 20 per cent, citing security concerns, and although the law does not come into effect until 2017, foreign companies are already looking for buyers.

Axel Springer Russia said in a statement Thursday that it has agreed to sell all of its assets in Russia, including the Russian Forbes magazine and several glossy magazines, to Russian-owned Artcom Media for an undisclosed sum.

While all nationwide television stations are controlled by the state, some print outlets with foreign ownership, including the Vedomosti business daily and the Russian Forbes magazine, often have been critical of Kremlin policies.

The upcoming sale of Russian media assets has raised fears that Western-owned independent newspapers and magazines will fall into the hand of Kremlin allies.

As part of Thursday’s deal, Axel Springer Russia’s long-serving chief executive, Regina von Flemming, will take a 20 per cent in the company and is expected to be appointed as CEO adviser next year, the company said.

Axel Springer’s statement quoted Forbes Media’s chief executive, Mike Federle, as saying that Forbes is pleased that von Flemming “will continue to represent the Forbes brand as a minority shareholder of the new company.”