The Competition Council authorized the acquisition of control over Postabank Press Hirdetésszervező Reklámügynökség Rt (hereinafter Postabank Press) and KH Invest Befektetési Tanácsadó Kft (hereinafter KH Invest) by Axel Springer-Magyarország Kft (hereinafter AS-M).

The parties involved and the operation

AS-M, which is directly controlled by the German multinational publisher Axel Springer Verlag AG, publishes six county dailies. Axel Springer Verlag AG has several other interests on the Hungarian printed media market, like Axel Springer Budapest Kiadói Kft, dealing with weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines, or Hungaropress Sajtóterjesztő Kft, an importer and distributor of foreign newspapers, as well as printing houses (hereinafter Axel Springer group). The Axel Springer group had an aggregate annual turnover of HUF 16.1 billion in Hungary in 2000.

Postabank Press, having a turnover of HUF 212 million in 2000, is active on the advertising market while KH Invest provides financial services, however in 2000 it had no monitored income. The two companies own more than 80 per cent of the shares of Zöld Újság Tömegkommunikációs és Kiadói Rt (hereinafter Zöld Újság) which publishes "Világgazdaság" a daily economic newspaper. Its turnover in 2000 was HUF 934 million.

On 15 February 2001, AS-M acquired 100 per cent of the shares of Postabank Press and KH Invest obtaining direct control over them and indirect control over Zöld Újság.

The parties` position on the market

There are hundreds of undertakings publishing a huge number of publications on the Hungarian printed media market. Besides readers, advertisers should be regarded as consumers of the publishers` services as well. The members of the Axel Springer group have a significant role on the publishing market attracting 29.6 per cent of all readers. AS-M has more than 30 per cent regarding readers of county newspapers by publishing and distributing 6 out of the 18 papers. On the markets of magazines specialised in different topics Axel Springer Budapest has market shares between 23 and 41 per cent, the highest of them concerning women`s and hobby magazines and TV-guides.

Among economic dailies Világgazdaság is the leader with approximately 60 per cent of the 40000 readers, which represents 0.2 per cent of the printed media`s consumers.

Not even dailies and weeklies of the same topic could be considered as substitutes for each other due to the content, scale of published information and different prices.

The application

The aggregate annual turnover of the parties concerned was HUF 17.2 billion, of which the annual turnover of the undertakings getting under control was HUF 1.1 billion, which exceeded the threshold laid down in the Competition Act therefore the concentration was subject to authorisation. AS-M applied for an authorization on 2 March 2001 referring to the fact that it had no interest earlier on the market of economic newspapers, therefore the Competition Council should clear the concentration.

The decision

The Competition Office may not refuse the authorisation of a concentration which does not create or strengthen a dominant position, does not impede the formation, development or continuation of effective competition. The relevant geographical market is the territory of Hungary. The relevant market has been determined as the market of economic dailies distributed throughout the country.

Considering that the Axel Springer group was not a market player earlier the operation realizes only a change in ownership rather than an increase in market concentration. However, due to the fact that the Axel Springer group has significant market shares regarding other types of newspapers the concentration leads to the expansion of the company`s product portfolio, which could have harmful effects on competition. In this case however the undertaking`s market share illustrated by the number of readers rose by 0.2 per cent only, which did not enable any anticompetitive effects to be realized. Therefore the Competition Council authorized the concentration.