Berliner Verlag: Two East Berliners buy a newspaper
She learned an office clerk, he was a skilled toolmaker. Now they own the Berliner Zeitung. Where does Silke and Holger Friedrich come from? Nobody in the industry knows her.
That did not exist in a German publishing house for a long time. The editorial office is summoned spontaneously to a works meeting in the morning because good news has to be announced. No layoffs and no cuts. Instead, Silke and Holger Friedrich introduce themselves to the employees of the Berlin publishing house, who publishes the Berliner Zeitung and the Berliner Kurier tabloid. The couple, hitherto completely unknown in the media industry, has bought the publishing house and wants to start from scratch. A coup.
It's just a brief introduction of the two new owners, not even half an hour talking to the man with the long beard and the woman with the dark brown hair to the employees, but they arrive equally well with them. Both come from East Berlin as the publisher itself. She is a trained office clerk and a skilled toolmaker. She studied social and business communication at the University of Arts in Berlin and later revived the Techno Club E-Werk. Today, Silke Friedrich is the managing director of the private school Berlin Metropolitan School, in which the couple is involved.
Holger Friedrich studied German and computer science in Potsdam and founded a tech company in the early 2000s, which was later acquired by the software company SAP. In the meantime, he worked as a partner for the consulting firm McKinsey, but later founded his own technology consulting company Core. The couple has brought it with his various entrepreneurial activities to some assets. The exact purchase price for the Berlin-based publishing house and printing company is not publicly known, but it is circulating in the industry but a mid-double-digit million.
"What we wanted"
"The mood at the staff meeting was good," reports Frederik Bombosch, chairman of the works council and editor of the Berliner Zeitung . "The two are exactly what we wanted." For years, the previous owner, the Verlagsgruppe DuMont from Cologne, drove a split by one after another in the Berlin publishing house. Editorships have been merged, outsourced and shrunk. But, as with many regional newspapers, a successful strategy for making money online with journalism was missing.
Bombosch says now, "the two are planning something". The Friedrichs would have left a dedicated impression and presented good approaches. "And they bring along a deep understanding of technology," says Bombosch. Also the Berliner Zeitung has long been missing. Many traditional publishers find it difficult to integrate the agility of the online world into their way of working: developing new formats quickly and reacting ad hoc to trends in journalism. To create reach and market content. The Friedrichs now speak of a "content-wise and technologically motivated transformation".
Prerequisite for the sale was apparently also that the publisher's own printing works in the Berlin district of Lichtenberg is taken over by the new owners. This is actually a business that many publishers now avoid and have long outsourced to service providers. However, in the morning the Friedrichs expressed a commitment to the print business and wanted to introduce themselves in person in the printing company during the day. That was not necessarily common for new owners, according to the publisher. Whether and how long the confession to print fits together with the "consistently digitally oriented offers", of which the new publisher couple now speaks, has yet to be seen.
In any case, it seems certain that there is nothing more to gain from further savings plans in the Berlin publishing house. "We encourage the new owners not only to invest in new technology, but above all in clever minds," says works councilor Bombosch. In fact, the Friedrichs are faced with the challenge of having to deal with very limited personnel diverse channels with different content: the subscription offer of the Berliner Zeitung and the tabloid Berliner Kurier , both in print and online. However, the Friedrichs did not discuss possible investments at the company meeting.
It was a rather modest appearance of the couple, who has been married for about 20 years and has three children together, say participants from the publisher. One did not hear the usual slogans of the media managers, but clear statements. After all, the Friedrichs would have managed once before to enter a new and unknown sector and to be successful. When they bought into the private Metropolitan School years ago, it was almost insolvent. They made the turnaround. The journalists of the Berlin publishing house now hope that the Friedrichs can repeat this success with you.